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In Hartford, Concern Over Proposed School Budget Cuts

By COLIN POITRAS, Courant Staff Writer

April 24, 2008

Apprehension ran high at the annual public hearing on the proposed school budget Wednesday night as a small group of parents, teachers and custodians tried to figure out the impact of the proposed $284.5 million general fund budget on existing programs.

School officials radically changed the way the budget is prepared this year. Instead of a line-item account showing where every dollar was being spent, the proposed budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year was broken down by general spending categories at individual schools.

"It's not a transparent budget," said local businessman Sam Saylor, former president of the PTO Presidents' Council. Saylor was one of about 20 people at Wednesday's 90-minute hearing and only a few spoke.

One of the biggest concerns has been the proposed loss of 59 positions in student services and the district's central office. School officials released a more detailed list of what positions are up for elimination Wednesday but it still left some people shaking their heads because it mostly listed general categories and not individual jobs.

School Superintendent Steven J. Adamowski said the cuts were made as far away from the classroom as possible and include many middle-management, administrative and secretary jobs in central office, which he said has been traditionally top-heavy with staff.

The list of the positions being eliminated includes three accountants, 4.5 clerks, 8.8 secretaries and assistants, five central office directors, three classroom coordinators, four data specialists, two pre-K facilitators and three pre-K specialists.

Adamowski said the district had 260 employees in central office when he started in Hartford in 2006. That number is down to about 230 and will be reduced to about 180 next year, he said. Adamowski said he wants to reach a level at which central office represents 30 percent of spending and 70 percent is spent on school programs and classroom instruction. When Adamowski started, he said, the ratio for classroom spending in the budget was unconscionable at less than 50 percent.

The proposed cuts also include three custodians, three supervisors in the building and grounds department and a full-time painter.

One building and grounds supervisor with more than 20 years in the school system left the meeting concerned about his job. The man didn't want to give his name but said he came to the meeting because he had heard his department might be cut and people are waiting to see where the ax falls. He said the supervisors were being eliminated because more responsibility was being given to the individual principals who will have to start overseeing their custodians more directly.

Other positions up for elimination are a dental hygienist, a nurse practitioner, five classroom coaches, two prevention specialists and 3.7 speech clinicians. Adamowski said a recent review showed the district had too many speech clinicians. As for the lost classroom coaches, Adamowski said many of those individuals took other jobs in the system as teachers.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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