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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Menzo seeks 9% hike in school budget

As published in the Record Journal Tuesday January 10, 2012

By Ibrahim Hirsi
Record-Journal staff

WALLINGFORD — School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo presented his 2012-13 strategic budget proposal to the Board of Education Monday night at Lyman Hall High School.

At $94,576,853, the proposal represents an increase of nearly 9 percent from last year. Menzo’s 2012-13 sustained budget total — $90,188,979 — comes in at nearly 4 percent more than 2011-12’s. The sustained budget represents the minimum required to maintain services at the previous year’s level; the strategic budget reflects the funding needed to act on the school system’s strategic plan.

Last year, the final school budget came back from the mayor’s office with an increase of only about 2 percent over the year before.

Some teachers and parents at the meeting said the increase in the budget request is much needed and should be a priority.

“The country spends billions on wars,” said Lou Faiella, a Wallingford teacher. “Our children are very important and deserve to be spent on. With the sustained budget, the increase that [Menzo] is asking for is a reasonable amount of money.”

Though the new budget would cut 10 elementary and middle-school teacher positions due to enrollment decreases, it would allocate more teachers to the high schools and language programs.

Menzo’s plan includes the acquisition of new and replacement equipment, as well as the continued upgrade of wireless access points and servers throughout the school district; maintenance initiatives that include replacement of the outdoor track and indoor bleachers at Lyman Hall High School; and curriculum development and career readiness resources.

The proposed budget sounds expensive, said Sharon Dooley, a Wallingford teacher, “but the technology is expensive, too. And getting that technology in the hands of the students is important.”

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