BY: SARAH ROUSSEL
The Fairfield Board of Education, led by Superintendent David Title, has managed to allocate the $250,000 cut from its 2012-2013 budget with minimal impact.
This news will appease Ludlowe community members disappointed by the effects of this year’s highly controversial $2.8 million reduction who feared similar changes next year. Though the BoE originally stood to lose $2.9 million as part of the overall $1.1 million cut from the townwide budget recommended by the town Board of Finance, that number was fortunately decreased.
These changes will impact the town’s next fiscal year, which begins July 1 and covers the 2012-2013 school year. Accordingly, June 30 will bring about the close of the current fiscal year, which included highly influential changes to the BoE budget.
At the high school level alone, this year’s reductions included the termination or reduction of several staff members’ jobs, the elimination of late buses, and the condensation of the World Language program—specifically, the merging of Chinese 31 and 41. Staff cutbacks additionally resulted in shortened library hours, the restriction of computer lab access, and more.
FLHS Photography teacher Michele Hermsen observed that in her experience, budget cuts “mean less of everything: less money, less supplies, less tech support, less opportunities for field trips, and potentially less learning”. Though this year’s cuts had a major impact and were felt by every member of the school community, next year’s will, theoretically, go unnoticed by Ludlowe students and staff.
These cuts will be comprised of eleven changes, each of which is worth less than $50,000. Included in the changes are less professional development for teachers, decreases in trash and recycling pickup during the summer, and using less and cheaper paper throughout the district.
Other ways the BoE will save money include teacher retirements, software system price changes, and switching oil tanks.
Many students, like sophomore George Whiteside, recognize the unfortunate necessity of budget reductions and were prepared to lose even more in the coming year. Whiteside comments that he feels budget cuts are “a necessary evil,” noting that “in the long run, [Fairfield] won’t be able to maintain [its] high standards of public education if people can no longer afford to live and move here.”
However, Whiteside and his peers will be happy with the low-impact changes for next year. The news of these changes will be especially comforting after the remarks Title made when faced with the prospect of again having to cut almost $3 million from the budget.
In a letter released through the Fairfield Public Schools website and the FLHS PTA Flash before the budget was finalized, Title regretfully remarked that “any program or service that is not mandated by either contract or state law would be ‘on the table’ for [elimination or reduction].” That this year’s budget cuts did not result in such extreme measures was appreciated by all involved, especially administrators like Title.