Kate Daniello is the co-founder of We The People of Fairfield, a taxpayer advocacy group. She submitted this letter to the editor in advance of the Representative Town Meetings upcoming discussion on the towns 2011-2012 spending, which begins Monday at 8 p.m.
Dr. David Title stated at a meeting with the Representative Town Meetings education subcommittee last week that while nothing is off the table, the current $ 2 million budget reduction approved by the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance would (if he reduced staff only) require him to eliminate 23 full-time teachers (FTEs) or 46 non-certified staff (paraprofessionals).
We The People would like to ask, What about Administrative Costs? Why does the Board of Education always start by pointing to "teachers and programs," which in turn gets parents in an uproar? We The People wants every town resident to know that what we want to see is reductions in "support positions" NOT teachers, paraprofessionals or programs! As we have said in the past, Fairfield teachers were tremendously generous last year in giving up their step and salary increases. Please, do not let this budget reduction affect them.
Instead, we would ask that the RTM consider the following eight items as they deliberate on the educational budget.
1. Eliminate curriculum leaders (six) each with a salary in excess of $122,000. Teachers in the trenches say they are not needed. The public should know that in addition to the director of curriculum, instruction and assessment at a salary of $159,000, there are six curriculum leaders, seven curriculum coordinators and six department liaisons who receive a stipend for curricular responsibility. The Board of Education Website contains a full explanation of the job responsibilities included in each position.
2. Reduce the overabundance of school Psychologists (one in each elementary school). According to ASHA recommendations, Fairfield Public Schools have too many. This has been stated and outlined in the Prismatic Audit Report.
3. Reduce the number of houses at each high school from three to two. Dr. Title has stated that he is not inclined to eliminate the house system in this year's budget, that he needs more time to study it.
4. Teacher improvement costs of $560,000 (this is not money earmarked for professional development). It is money paid to exceptional teachers who "mentor" new teachers or teachers in need of additional support. This is not done in the private sector, as a professional you are responsible for improving yourself. Further, why isn't the principal providing support or advice to the teacher in terms of improvement?
5. Move toward an average of 23 students per class versus 20 or 21, particularly at the middle and high school levels.
6. Do not hire principals to run the summer school program. Use the full-time salaried principals to do this and use the profit to reduce other school expenditures.
7. Eliminate, fully, the deputy superintendent position, which is currently costing the taxpayer $80,000. The Board of Education intends to replace Jack Boyle, the deputy superintendent who currently works two days a week, with a full-time assistant superintendent. In the past, Fairfield and most school systems have had assistant superintendents, but it is We The Peoples understanding that, during a difficult past budget season, Jack Boyle agreed to decrease the number of days he works and a layer of administration was set up in which department heads reported to another level of administration other than (former Superintendent) Dr. Ann Clark. The full-time assistant superintendent position is in the budget we are now deliberating.
8. Finally, we have asked Dr. Title to repeat the exact Prismatic Audit survey that was sent to all the teachers and administrators under Dr. Clark. The response level was poor. We The People feels that the teachers and the administrators know where savings can be achieved without hurting the excellent education our students receive. Dr. Title feels that it is too soon to do another survey
Co Founder of We the People of Fairfield
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