March 16, 2009

School budget struggles to stay on track

Though school officials have tossed aside plans to hand out layoff notices to scores of non-tenured teachers and others, it remains unclear how much of the $104 million “go forward” budget will receive funding from the state and city.

“I will do everything in my power to knock it down,” city Councilor Mike Rimcoski said.

School Superintendent Philip Streifer said that he is troubled by “a significant drop-off in state aid” that makes it increasingly difficult for administrators to maintain the level of education needed in Bristol.

The proposed school spending plan seeks $3.7 million more than the schools got during the current fiscal year, mostly to cover rising health care costs for employees, special education and higher salaries.

But it appears that state aid levels may remain level – or potentially even decline in the face of a budgetary meltdown – so finding the extra cash to pay the higher tab may prove a trick.

The federal government’s recent stimulus package includes money for education that may help cover some of the tab, officials said, but because of its one-time nature, whatever benefits it offer may make future budgets even more difficult to fund.

“In the next year or two, we could be laying 100 or more” employees, Streifer said, all of them in areas where city schools are not mandated to provide services, such as special education.

Rimcoski said he doesn’t know where all the necessary dollars are going to come from.

“I’ve got people losing houses” in Bristol already, he said, and pushing property taxes higher isn’t going to help anyone.

“We’ve reached the saturation point in this city,” said Rimcoski, a veteran GOP councilor from northeastern Bristol’s 1st District.

Streifer said he understands the impact of rising costs on local taxpayers and sympathizes with the plight many face.

Mayor Art Ward said the city is “just at the beginning” of the budget process this year.

He said he expects “a lot of transition” in the city’s spending plans as the overall picture becomes clearer.

Streifer and Ward said they hope that state lawmakers will pursue mandate relief that could ease the pressure on school funding.

With fewer mandates, the schools could use the money available to cover broader needs, they said, and help stretch the budget.

“I wish they’d mandate everything,” Streifer said, so that he would be required to do everything the schools need instead of focusing only on some areas.

The amount of money the schools will get from the city will be set in May at a joint session of the Board of Finance and City Council. The finance panel will prepare a draft budget by late April.

City leaders are eyeing a property tax freeze, but some are skeptical of the idea because it could bring so much hardship to education in particular.

What you can do

There is a budget hearing on the school spending plan slated for 6 p.m., Wednesday at the Board of Education where the city’s Board of Finance will review the request. 


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Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bristol better not raise my taxes one cent! If they need to cut programs for a couple of years so be it! The people without kids are leaving this city left and right! Tax the people with kids more money!

Anonymous said...

Rimcoski is a dinosaur!!!

Anonymous said...

Lay off 1/2 the administration not the teachers. Time for the BOE to trim the fat and not at the cost to our kids.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone vote against the school budget?

Anonymous said...

Ward: DO SOMETHING!!!

Don't wait for your democrat friends in Hartford and DC to help us.

Anonymous said...

Ya 3:05 I'll pay more taxes because I have kids as long as you'll pay more for all the town services you use, i.e. roads, trash etc. Oh and maybe those that don't need any police and fire services should pay less too. You don't make sense. We should all pay equal taxes. It's up to our leaders as to how it should allocated and used. Thats not my problem if they choose to keep funding the BOE in its current condition. Change your vote next time if you don't like the way things are being run. Einstein

hey dumbo said...

4:47pm - go back and take a nap - ward only has one vote just like every other finance board or city council member, so your positive suggestion is what? you idiot.
Quite obvious that you were one of those who were promoted without the benefit of "smarts", you poster child for ignorance.

Anonymous said...

GET RID OF THE HIGH PRICE DOCTOR AND COMPANY AND YOUR PROBLEMS ARE SOLVED.

Anonymous said...

5:34

It is not a matter of a vote, but a matter of cutting and controlling costs!

And WARD was elected as mayor, to run the city.

While there may not be 3 million in savings without layoffs, there is the potential for significant savings, thereby reducing the impact. Why isn't he doing something in that area?

And why no layoff among city employees?

The city budget went up by a bigger percentage than Education!
Where is he on that?

And why did he not start cutting cost sooner?

It is clear that you are a Ward sycophant who clearly does not understand the workings of the city, or as they could be if done right.

Anonymous said...

Did Ward vote against the Teachers Contract?

Did Ward chide the BOE for their raising of salaries?

Did Ward say anything, ever?

Concerned Conservative said...

How about privatizing janatorial services and grounds maintenance for starters?

Anonymous said...

It's pretty comical reading some of these comments. You have one person who does not want his taxes raised 1 cent. That guy needs to move to outer space / Florida / wherever, but not in the Northeast.

You have another who thinks Rimcoski is a dinosaur. Mike's a nice guy, genial, clueless at times, but he's really a nice fellow. He does have the taxpayer at heart and does understand costs will rise, even in Education. He's not a big fan of education, but who is at his age.

You have the people who think the Education budgets will be solved on the backs of the Administrators. Get over it guys, that does not happen. Welcome to the real world. You placed all of those bureaucrats in Washington and it takes all of these Administrators to implement the programs from the politicians that we keep sending to Hartford and Washington.

If you really want change, change your vote.

Anonymous said...

7:31 it's simple. Ward knows if he does any lay-offs he will NOT be re-elected. Believe me, he will do everything in his power not to do ANY lay-offs for this reason alone. He is putting himself and his reuptation above the taxpayers needs in my opinion. His "cuts" and "savings" are fuzzy math at best. Smoke and mirrors only gets you so far.

8:25 I agree- cut some services and contract them out. It will save a ton just by not paying pensions and benefits for all those folks. City workers need to realize they are NOT irreplaceable. We can get the job done cheaper and probably even better...but definetly more efficiently if our leadership would actually do something about it. I don't know about you, but I feel we need major changes and the only way I see it can happen is if we vote out the old and get new ones in there. When election time comes I am voting ALL of them out. I'm sick of it!! I'm voting for all new leaders, even if I don't like everything about them. Enough is enough. Change requires action. Without action, nothing will ever change. Our current leaders are to afraid to make changes. They need to be replaced with a fresh set of eyes and ears....people that will listen and actually have the balls to take action. Not just talk about it and play games with our money and our way of life. It is not a joke.

Anonymous said...

The state should let cities enact an education tax. If you want your kids to go to school in the city - you need to pay a special education tax. For the poster at March 16, 2009 5:32 PM - We can close a fire station to save some money. But - Unions will never let that happen! But they do run our city. We are staffed quite well for police services in our town of 60k+. My garbage is picked up once a week - and my road is plowed by a sub contractor - so I guess I should be proud I pay $4000 a year to the city of Bristol - oh and I also need to pay another $85 to have my yard waste picked up and another $20 to use the dump! Which is the same place my yard waste is going to! Please!

Anonymous said...

Approve the GASB 45 transfer for starters.

Anonymous said...

the results we have gotten with test scores and improved performance is because of the work of the administrators and the power standards imposed on teachers and enforced by administrators. We are being punished by Hartford already with our priority school district being removed because of the success we have had. It does not, did not, happen in a vacuum.

Anonymous said...

5:32

Excellent point. Equal taxes for all. Let the poor pay the same rate as the rich. And vice versa. Still want it? Thats how it should be. If we in CT (especially) didn't try to make a legacy of taxing the 'so called rich' (250k$ +) and RELYING on their tax dollars we may not be in the situation we are in now. Believe it or not, most people that earn that much deserve to earn the money. And they deserve to be taxed at the same rate as you do.....Just because they EARN more doesn't mean they have less bills....Its all relative...

Anonymous said...

Mike should learn that the image of education is the biggest factor affecting Bristol and its attractivness.
It also affects the value of my home, and if Mike doesn't care about his property, I do care about my investment.
A good example of a a narrow point of view, just like Mize.

And yes, Art is just loking out for himself!!!

Anonymous said...

11:05- The administrators may have "imposed" and "enforced" but it was the teaching staff that CREATED AND IMPLEMENTED the strategies that impacted the scores.

Anonymous said...

someone at the BOE better check the law books when threatening to cut funding for special education. The law states that lack of money is not a legal reason to cut special ed services. Someone better go through the laws of this country in regards to the treatment of children with special needs before a huge lawsuit comes crashing down on this city. Have they looked into anything that other cities and towns are doing? Cutting jv sports, cheerleading, eliminating administration postions?? Check out their website and see how many directors we have. It's a freaking joke. Also, when you are paid over $100,000.00 as a elementary school principal, more should be expected from them. They don't need vice principles. It's very apparent at our school that ALL the staff could really kick it up a notch and produce better work, but they don't because they know that they don't have to.

Anonymous said...

I wish Steve would interview a couple of the "Vice-Principals" and find out exactly what they do to earn their keep.

Anonymous said...

Volunteer in the school system: be a mentor, get involved.

You might have a differnt opinion!

Anonymous said...

Next Season on Survivor

Have you heard about the next planned "Survivor" show?

Three businessmen and three businesswomen will be dropped into an elementary school classroom for 1 school year. The business people will be provided with a copy of their school district's curriculum and a class of 28 - 32 students.

Each class will have a minimum of five learning-disabled children, three with A.D.D., one gifted child, and two who speak limited English. Three students will be labeled with severe behavior problems.

All business people must complete lesson plans at least 3 days in advance with annotations for curriculum objectives and modify, organize, or create their materials accordingly. They will be required to teach students, handle misconduct, implement technology, document attendance, write referrals, correct homework, make bulletin boards, compute grades, complete report cards, document benchmarks, communicate with parents, and arrange parent conferences.

They must also stand in the doorway between class changes to monitor the hallways. In addition, they will complete fire drills, tornado drills, and [Code Red] drills for shooting attacks each month.

They must attend workshops, faculty meetings, and attend curriculum development meetings They must also tutor students who are behind and strive to get the 2 non-English speaking children proficient enough to take all of the state tests.

If the business person is sick or having a bad day, he/she must not let it show. Each day they must incorporate reading, writing math, science, and social studies into the program and must maintain discipline and provide an educationally stimulating environment to motivate students at all times.

If all students do not wish to cooperate, work, or learn, the teacher will be held responsible. The business people will only have access to the public golf course on the weekends, but with their new salary, they may not be able to afford it.

There will be no access to vendors who want to take them out to lunch, and lunch will be limited to thirty minutes, which is not counted as part of their workday. The business people will be permitted to use a student restroom, as long as another survival candidate can supervise their class.

If the copier is operable, they may make copies of necessary materials before or after school. However, they cannot surpass their monthly limit of copies. The business people must continually advance their education, at their expense, and on their own time.

The winner of this season of "Survivor" will be allowed to return to his/her job.

Pass this to your friends who think teaching is easy and to the ones that know it is hard.

Anonymous said...

Ward does nothing. I don't care what his supporters say. He sits back and avoids any of the tough issues. Cocaine had it right when he called him a coward.

chris wilson said...

TO:441. I am a businessman. 7 or 8 years ago I taught a 13 week class of Jr achievement to one of Mr. Pirog's class. I can assure you and others it is as challenging as you describe. I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I think many would be well served to spend some time in the school.

I felt that it was a serious challenge to sell to these young people that which you had to say was worthwile them listening. I came away with a lot more respect for the teaching profession. In addition my daughter and son in law tell me all the time how difficult it is and how rewarding it can be.

Again thanks for the perspective.

Anonymous said...

The BOE needs to cut ALL after school programs and sports if necessary. The school system has become a FREE babysitting service and a FREE lunch and breakfast provider. It is time for parents to understand if they want after school programs,sports and meals for their children they will need to pay for it themselves!!!The BOE can still offer these programs but they must be funded 100% by the ones who use the program not the OVER TAXED TAXPAYERS of Bristol.

Steve Collins said...

I love that one. Kids should go hungry because their parents are too poor or too messed up to provide them with meals? Nothing like piling on to young people who already have the deck stacked against them.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe people actually wish for others to loose their jobs. Concerned conservitive you have a problem with BOE employees working for a living but you don't mind paying higher taxes to support excessive programs, ( sports after scool programs and lunch assistance, etc.).It is time to focus on the real problem with the BOE budget which is too few, paying taxes for too many who pay little or no tax. Eliminate the programs Bristol can no-longer afford.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Steve,explain why should I have to support my family and other irresponsible people. If you can't afford it you can't have it.
Time for touch love.

Anonymous said...

After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said:

'Let me see if I've got this right.

'You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior,

observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt

messages, and instill in them a love for learning.


'You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually

transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride.

'You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play,

and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.

'You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and

make sure that they all pass the final exams.

'You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their

handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any

other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.

'You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard,a bulletin board,

a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.


'You want me to do all this and then you tell me. . . I CAN'T PRAY?'

Anonymous said...

Steve,it is called responsibility. Why should we taxpayers in Bristol reward irresponsibility?

Anonymous said...

5:19 - no face, no guts but we still recognize you as being the idiot that you present yourself to be - may be anonymous but you can't hide - idiot.

Anonymous said...

Teacher's Salary

Teachers' hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year!
It's time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they
do--baby sit!

We can get that for less than minimum wage That's right. Let's give them $3.00 an hour and only for the hours they worked,not any of that silly planning time.

That would be $19.50 a day ( 7:00 AM to 3:30 (or so) PM with just 25
min. off for lunch).

Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit
their children.

NOW...
How many do they teach in a class, 30? So that's $19.50 x 30 =$585.00
a day.

However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! we're not going to pay them for any vacations.

LET'S SEE....
That's $585 x 180= $105,300 per year.

What about those special teachers and the ones with master's degrees?

Well, we could pay them minimum wage, and just to be fair, round it off to $7.00 an hour. That would be $7 x 6 1/2 hours x 30 children x 180 days =
$245,700 per year.

Wait a minute--there's something wrong here!

Average teacher salary $50,000/180 days = $277/per day/30 students =
$9.23/6. hours = $1.42 per hour per student. A very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even
try - with your help - to EDUCATE your kids!

WHAT A DEAL....

And the parents don't even have to buy us pizza!

Anonymous said...

1:24

Are you mayor Ward?

Anonymous said...

Did anyone show up at the meeting?

Anonymous said...

1:28 Your comment was entertaining. Where does a babysitter get paid per child? (Only if you own the daycare center.) So,let's see...

We'll start by paying minimum wage. No paid lunch, because you're not full time. Hours worked are debatable; it depends on which grade level and the particular teacher's dedication and promptness. But let's say 8 AM to 3PM, minus about 1/2 hour for lunch, that's 6 1/2 hours.

6.5 x $7 = $45.50

Now let's multiply by workdays, and we all know about those three or four extra days:

184 x $45.50 = $8372.00

Now, no one really expects teachers to do more than babysit for minimum wage, so let's pay them double the minimum wage for passing out papers and doing math on the board and showing movies, etc:

2 X $8372.00 = $16,744.00

That's a good little salary for a part time job. Let's give them the best health benefits, schedule them to have all holidays and the whole summer off, guarantee that they can almost never be fired no matter what their performance, and enable to them to have a hefty pension for the rest of their lives. No one gets that for a part time job, but what the heck, the towns have a lot of money right? And you know what, the towns have so much money that let's forget the $16,744.00 and give them whatever they want. After all, we're rich, right?

Anonymous said...

11:27, If it's as easy as you TRY to make it sound why aren't you a teacher????

Anonymous said...

1:03 I worked fulltime, but I encouraged my children to join the racket. Now I know they are set for life.

???????????? said...

7:27 - still waiting? Are you Gary,Art,Bruce, Whett,Ed or one of the other nameless, faceless republicans?
Identify yourself, if you can.

Anonymous said...

6:02

And you are????

Anonymous said...

9:50 Hopefully if and when your children "join the racket" you and others will be there to take their earned money away from them.

Anonymous said...

11:43 One of my children IS in the racket, and he knows it! Plus, with all that time off, we have practically unlimited fishing and vacation time together. It's a cushy life.

Anonymous said...

9;54, Be thankful your children have the time to spend with you.

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve, if the March 18,2009 12:55 poster was so wrong how do these poor families feed their children during the summer months?
If they can provide for their children during the summer they should be able to provide the rest of the year!!!