Stamford Board of Education budget advances, with no additional cuts

Stamford Board of Education sent a proposed budget of $308 million to the Board of Finance.

Stamford Board of Education budget advances, with no additional cuts
A look at some of the Stamford Board of Education priorities. (Courtesy of Stamford Public Schools) 

Despite some proposals to cut funding from the budget, the proposed $308+ million operating budget and the $58 million grants budget—or funding that comes to the district from outside sources—were approved by the Board of Education, with a 6-2 vote on Wednesday and sent on to the Board of Finance.

“It’s the budget, we need to keep the system running,” said Dan Dauplaise, board member and chair of the board’s Finance Committee.

Board member Joshua Esses proposed several cuts to the board, stating that it would be better if they could trim their own budget instead of just responding to cuts from the Board of Finance.

“I understand that the Board of Finance is going to cut this budget and that the Board of Representatives may cut it after,” he said. “In an ideal world, we do the cutting ourselves, we do as much work upfront as we can on the budget now.”

Some of his proposed cuts included:

  • Cutting six teachers. Although the BOE can’t direct where to eliminate teachers, as that’s a decision made by the administration, Esses said that he would like to seem them cut in kindergarten since the budget proposes to bring back 30 paraeducators at that level
  • Getting rid of a proposal of $250,000 to add funding to the communications department
  • Cutting funding that was added this year to pay for yearbooks, caps, and gowns for graduating seniors

Board member Benjamin Lee said that while he understood what Esses was saying he couldn’t support cuts at this time, but would keep some of his proposals in mind during the reallocation process, which happens after the Board of Education gets its budget back from the Board of Finance and Board of Representatives and has made adjustments to it.

“I appreciate what Josh is saying—’getting our own house in order,” he said. “But I’m not in favor of preemptively cutting our budget. I can’t support any cuts right now.”

Board member Becky Hamman, who supported most of Esses’ cuts and had some of her own suggestions that also failed, called the budget a “shopping spree.”

Other board members argued that if they themselves didn’t advocate for school funding, why would the Board of Finance or Board of Representatives?

The highlights from the budget include:

  • Restoring the number of Kindergarten paraeducators, to support one for every classroom,
  • Spending an additional $1.5 million in funding to support social-emotional support programs to help students continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact
  • Adding special education teachers and programs; school psychologists, speech pathologists, and social workers
  • Bringing in two administrative positions in the Alternative Education program to help create pathways to careers

The Board of Finance will review the budget next and potentially make cuts to it before the Board of Representatives review and adopt it. Once the district receives its final total, the Board of Education will go through a reallocation process to see how they’ll adjust their proposals to any cuts.