Fairfield RTM Cuts $500,000 From School Budget Despite Protests

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Members of the Fairfield Representative Town Meeting vote to cut $500,000 from the Board of Education budget for the 2014-15 year.
Members of the Fairfield Representative Town Meeting vote to cut $500,000 from the Board of Education budget for the 2014-15 year. Photo Credit: Alissa Smith
A line of people of more than 40 residents wraps around the Fairfield Warde High School small gym when the public was allowed to speak to the RTM, the majority spoke against the cut to the education budget.
A line of people of more than 40 residents wraps around the Fairfield Warde High School small gym when the public was allowed to speak to the RTM, the majority spoke against the cut to the education budget. Photo Credit: Alissa Smith

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – With a vote of 27 for and 22 against, the Fairfield Representative Town Meeting cut $500,000 from the Board of Education budget late Monday.

This cut brings the budget down to $285 million and the tax increase of 1.95 percent. But the cut brought forward a storm of back and forth across the aisle.

At the start of the Monday meeting, District 4 Republican Rep. Joe Palmer said the reduction brings the town’s tax increase below 2 percent for the first time in five years.

“While we attract families, it is also essential for us to maintain a healthy balance between those that have children in the schools and those who do not,” Palmer said. “It is critical to trim back the Board of Education budget as much as possible.”

For Democrats on the RTM, cutting any part of the budget, especially the education side, was wrong. Minority Leader Hal Schwartz said the budget presented to them was a "yeomen's task" and done through a bipartisan effort.

Those who supported the school budget cut said several times that the proposed tax increase was more than the rate of inflation. Constantly increasing the education budget isn’t fair to those with no children in the town's schools, they said.

But most of the more than 40 residents in a line that wrapped around the gym for public comment spoke against the education cuts.

Many of those who stood up to speak during the public session had attended the Fairfield PTA Council's rally held before the meeting, all echoing the sentiment to not protect the education budget.

Several people asked why the RTM wasn’t investing in the town's students. Others said that they would happily pay the $250 increase in taxes to keep the $500,000 in the school budget.

“Please be accountable for your vote,” said Jessica Gerber, the last public speaker before the RTM.

After the last speaker, the RTM members expressed their dislike of having to make the vote.

“I am considering this cut to the Board of Education. It does not make me happy,” said Pamela Iacono, Republican Representative for District 9. But she added, “There is going to come a day when we are going to have to fund education to the fullest.”

The RTM continued to meet past midnight to discuss the municipal budget. 

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Finally, a reasonable budget cut. There is ALWAYS a way to cut expenses in any budget, anywhere. Cutting the budget to the inflation rate is common sense and sends a message to all school employees to temper their demands, to end their 'it's for the children' canard, and to keep seniors in the town and off food stamps. Are there any suckers out there that still believe teachers, as a union group, put children's needs before their own? Don't be silly.

While I understand the anger coming from those without children in the school system, I can't support cutting the school budget. That means cutting jobs from people that are taking care of our town's children. We are bringing in companies to serve our children instead of keeping longstanding workers where they belong. We are funding tests for these children that require teachers to "teach to the test" and not to the student. Our kids need help and maybe our funding could remain the same if some of the people in the higher positions stay with their paycheck and not accept raises. Then our lower end workers with the hands on positions could live in the same town they work in. It's a horrible decision.

BOE non-teaching administrative personal has increased over 20% past few years?!?!

GOOD !!!!!!! It os not about the money IT IS ABOUT BEING ACCOUNTABLE !!!!! Stop Using the Kids and the Line That is why Moved here------For YPU Most of you will be GONRE in Three to Five years Moving Out BECAUSE of the High Taxes !!!!! And you also will be the NIMBY People who will BLOCK any kind of Commercial TAXPAYING Property being NIMBY and the cry DON'T Ruin the "Character of OUR(Their adopted)TOWN.
You Don't run your HOUSEHOLD BUDGET this way Don't run the Town Budget this way !!!!!!
HAVE A GREAT DAY( I AM THANK YOU RTM) (And CONTIUE TO PAY AND PAY !!!!!!!)