FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Fairfield Parent-Teacher Association held a last-minute rally Monday night outside of Fairfield Ward High School to protest nearly $1 million in cuts to the town budget.
Just an hour before the Fairfield Representative Town Meeting sat down to possibly vote on the town 2014-15 budget, parents spoke out to represent the children who they said would be affected by the cuts.
“Students don’t vote,” said Phil Dwyer, chairman of the Board of Education. “We speak up for those whose voices are rarely heard.”
Many parents attended with their children, who stood with signs saying, “Don’t Cut The Budget” or “No Education Cuts.” The children were as interested in the process as their parents.
Everyone who spoke touched on the fact that the whole budget has already been vetted, first by the Board of Selectmen and then by the Board of Finance, resident Kevin Lennon said. It is truly a bipartisan budget, he said.
“I am truly afraid of what those cuts mean,” Lennon said. He added that the town’s education spending is well below inflation levels and hasn’t risen with inflation in five years.
“Many people recognize the value of a strong school system,” said Neal Fink, president of the Fairfield PTA Council. But he added that the whole budget as put forth to the RTM should be accepted, not cut further.
Selectman Cristin McCarthy-Vahey said this budget was as bipartisan as possible. “This budget is already a compromise,” McCarthy-Vahey said. Further cuts would be damaging to not only the education services but also to town services.
Democratic Rep. Heather Dean said she would support making no cuts to the entire budget that was put forward to the RTM for votes. It is already a “very lean budget,” she said.
Nearly everyone in attendance agreed that if the RTM were to go through with the budget cuts, they would call for a townwide referendum.