School board members seek restoration of programs in next year's budget
Members of the Board of Education on Tuesday indicated they want certain programs in Fairfield's public schools to be reinstituted as they held a preliminary discussion of the superintendent's yet-to-be-proposed 2013-14 budget.
Board member Perry Liu said he would like to "re-examine" cuts made to the districts' World Language program, which were imposed last year as part of an effort to trim $2.8 million from the current $149 million budget.
"I think there are many, many parents who think it's important," he said during a special meeting held by the board Tuesday night at in the library at Fairfield Woods Middle School.
Liu asked Superintendent of Schools David Title to examine the budget for a way to restore it partially, if not all at once, as well as reinstate busing for after-school programs.
Board member Sue Brand also supported restoring those initiatives.
"I think they're both something of great value," she said.
Liu and Brand suggested there be more preliminary discussions on the superintendent's spending proposal before it is presented to the board.
Board member Phillip Dwyer asked what would be some alternatives to making cuts to those programs.
Title said the spending reductions were more wide-ranging than making cuts to one or two programs to lessen the budget by $2.8 million.
"Alternatives can always be provided," said Title, who is expected to present to the school board a budget proposal for the next fiscal year in January.
Board member Paul Fattibene asked if there were any areas where greater efficiencies could be attained instead of cutting programs to save money.
"We're always looking for ways to operate more efficiently," he said, adding that 75 percent of the budget is allotted to fixed costs of salary and benefits. "I think the window on that is narrow, but I don't think it's completely closed," he said.
Prior to comments from the board, Title said the 2013-14 budget is "very preliminary" at this point because driving factors are unknown at this point, but pensions and health insurance are expected to have a significant impact.
The panel this spring approved a spending package of $148.9 million for the current fiscal year, which began July 1.
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