Mayor says $1 million New Milford school cut ‘not set in stone’
Mayor David Gronbach had proposed a $1 million cut to the school budget during his presentation on Feb. 13, but on Wednesday said that was just a conversation starter and any cuts would be determined during deliberations between school and town officials in coming weeks.
“None of that is set in stone,” Gronbach said.
Without the mayor’s proposed cut, the total budget is $103.5 million, including the town’s $37.4 million operating budget.
The school budget is proposed at $2.1 million, or 3.45 percent, more than last year.
“It’s by far the largest driver,” he said.
Superintendent of Schools Joshua Smith said the health insurance increase is lower than it could have been because employees were recently moved to a new plan with a higher deductible.
The biggest unknown about the budget is the proposed $6.6 million cut in state funding.
“This is the most aggressive, most extreme cut I’ve seen to education,” Smith said.
He said it’s the equivalent of cutting 104.5 teachers, or about 28 percent of the district’s teaching staff. He added that the district wouldn’t do that and would make cuts across the board if they had to.
“It really penalizes school districts that have planned well,” Smith said.
Lawson said the cut was only proposed and based on conversations he’s had with dozens of other school board chairs, unlikely to happen.
“I don’t think this will go very far unless the city folks in the legislature can prevail,” he said.
The governor’s proposed cut is not included in the schools’ budget right now.
Lawson concluded the presentation by urging the public to reach out to their state representatives to prevent the cut from happening.