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Monday, November 28, 2011

Wallingford board seeks parent input on school budget

By Russell Blair
Record-Journal staff 
(203) 317-2225

WALLINGFORD - Parents who want their voices to be heard as the school budget is built for 2012-13 are encouraged to attend a forum next week.

On Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., a parent budget forum will be held at the Lyman Hall High School's vo-ag community room. Board of Education member Chet Miller said it's important to get parent input as the school board prepares its budget.

"They're more in touch with specific problems and issues they feel are in danger than we are at the board level," said Miller, a Republican. "We see things on a broader spectrum, whereas they might be in touch with a sport or an activity."

Miller said that parent input is crucial because the budget process will be beginning shortly.

"We like to know going in if there are areas that need attention," he said. "It's harder to change things after the fact."

School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said he hopes to hear specific areas of the budget that parents would like to be examined.

"We want them to share with us areas they'd like us to consider in the process," he said.
Menzo said that the district uses its strategic plan to help build the budget. The six areas covered by the Wallingford plan include community outreach, curriculum and instruction, district climate, facilities, finance and technology.

"We're taking each one, and want to see things that they want continued and possible changes," he said. "We use that as another piece of information."

Menzo said last year's budget forum for parents was the first, and while only about a dozen parents attended they all came with ideas and questions.

"It's so important to hear from parents," Menzo said. "This is not my budget, it's not the Board of Education's budget, it's the town's budget for the children."

The 2011-12 education budget was $4,779,296 less than the $91,573,029 the board had proposed to the mayor. Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr.'s budget represented a 0.42 percent increase over the 2010-11 budget; the board has sought a 5.95 percent increase.

School officials have said that if the district receives no increase in its budget for the next year, it could face a shortfall of several million dollars.

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