The Region 14 Board of Education discussed several options for a new budget figure at its Tuesday, June 12, special meeting, after the budget failed for the second time at the .
A special Board of Education meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 14, at .
"We're going into the third referendum and the thing we continue to hear is we don't want another administrator in the district," said Goeler.
He said that the position of director of curriculum and development is not a new position but rather a restoration of one that existed before.
"I understand people won't support the budget with that position in it," said Goeler. "So what do we do?"
He relayed the following options to the board.
Option One: A 1.53 Percent Increase Over the 2011-12 Budget
- Reduce the proposed budget by $153,000 by removing the director of curriculum and instruction position.
- Require current literary specialists to develop model instruction for each grade.
- Hire reading tutors to fill the gap left by the literary specialists' reassignment.
This option incorporates removing $153,000 from the proposed budget and adding in $110,000, Goeler said. Option A is $43,000 less than the $153,000 cost of a director of curriculum and instruction position.
Then, Goeler suggested removing $30,000 from various accounts, with the final result being the 1.53 percent increase over the 2011-12 budget.
Option Two: A 1.17 Percent Increase Over the 2011-12 Budget
"If we remove the director completely and didn't backfill and made a commitment as a district to put the work off for another year, which I wouldn't advise, we would be at a 1.17 percent increase," Goeler said.
Board members George Bauer and John Chapman said Goeler's options were a good place to start.
"I don't think its gong to be low enough to garner support from the public," said Bauer."I don't think a 1.17 percent increase is low enough."
Chapman said that between the two budget referendums, the votes were similar.
2012-13 Budget Referendum History
The Region 14 budget failed, 1,203 to 836 districtwide, at a . That budget, at $31,205,513, featured a 3.17 percent increase or $959,484 over the 2011-12 budget of $30,246,029.
The community , 1,210 to 843, on Wednesday, June 6. That budget amount, at $30,817,765, reflected a $571,736 increase, or 1.89 percent, over the 2011-12 budget of $30,246,029.
"It's difficult for me to draw any conclusions other than, the budgets have not passed," Chapman said.
He echoed Chairman Chuck Cosgriff's assertion that there are three possible reasons for the lack of support: the director of curriculum and instruction position, frustration with the cost and benefit of the agriscience program at Nonnewaug High School or the overall percentage increase.
"In my mind, I'm not sure what the critical factor is," said Chapman.
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Readers weighed in on the reasons why the budget was rejected in
The votes, as of 2:45 a.m. Wednesday, June 13, were as follows:
- The vo-ag program: 12 votes or 10 percent
- The director of curriculum and instruction: 54 votes or 48 percent
- The total percentage increase over last year's budget: 45 votes or 40 percent
Option Three: A Zero Percent Increase Over the 2011-12 Budget
Chapman asked Goeler to describe cuts that could occur in order to achieve a flat budget. Goeler said that as superintendent, he does not support a flat budget.
"Is there a way you can describe cuts we need to get to zero?" said Chapman. "I think that's been floated around as a budget that will pass. What kind of things will happen to this budget? I think people need to see it. I need to see it."
Director of Fiscal Services Jim Reese said achieving a flat budget will require approximately $450,000 in reductions. That could equate to reducing staff, increasing class sizes, eliminating electives and advanced placement classes, disbanding clubs and looking at athletics.
"If you're going to take out $450,000, there are going to be some very significant changes," said Reese. "If you're going to take out that kind of money, we're really looking at staffing."
There is nothing in the Region 14 charter indicating the region must have interscholastic athletics programs, arts or music, Goeler said. Suslavich suggested a possible activity fee for clubs and sports.
Board member Maryanne Van Aken said she does not want residents to think the board is threatening voters.
"This is reality," she said.
Resident Wayne Anderson said he voted for the last two budgets but feels the majority of the community wants a flat budget. He recommended the board succinctly list what will be eliminated if a flat budget is achieved.
"I think the important number now is a zero increase budget," he said. "I also think the priority for this board is that curriculum director."
Anderson said that if the board presents a flat budget but includes the administrative position in that budget, they must explain what the district will retain and what the district will lose.
"What concerns me is that we're talking about two different things — a zero percent budget and the director of curriculum being a lightning rod," said board member Van Aken. "Are we going to hear that the budget will go down in flames because we still have that position in there?"
Parent Candace De Felice said she does not support a budget without a director of curriculum.
"It's the essence of what we do," she said.
Why Goeler Supports the Director Position
Without a director of curriculum of development in Region 14, the district lacks coherence, he said.
"If we don't have a coherent curriculum, what the students learn one year isn't being reinforced the next year," said Goeler.
Goeler submitted a June 1 editorial to Patch explaining in more detail why he feels .
Selectman Dave Deakin of Bethlehem said he feels a budget between a one and one-and-a-quarter percent increase will pass. He also said he had a big topic to bring up.
"Reconfiguration was taken out of our school system last year and reconfiguration appeared to be on the trend of answering some of the questions in this district," he said.
During the years of reconfiguration, the budgets were flat more often than not, said Deakin.
"I'm not saying 'let's go back to K-2, 3-5'," he said. "But this conversation needs to happen again. It could be K-8. You need to study the trend of those four years. I think those years proved that the administration was on the right track."
Privilege of the Floor
Jim Crocker Sr. said he read about declining Mastery test scores in Region 14 wants to know why the town pays so much for a district that is not doing too well.
"I don't think that a lot of people in the community understand that our performance is not good," he said. "We as a community need to understand why those tests are poor."
Van Aken said a lack of cohesive curriculum contributes to low test scores.
"I think people need to understand that it costs money to educate our kids," she said. "Change and improvement won't come cheap."