A critic of the Stratford Board of Education’s spending habits is petitioning for the schools budget to remain flat in the 2017-18 fiscal year.
Henry Bruce has began a petition aimed at the Board of Education’s proposed budget. He is urging the Town Council to not give the Board of Ed any increase from the $106.7-million budget it received this year.
The petition, which is on the website Change.org, asks the Town Council to “freeze the current BOE operating budget at $106.8 million,” to “conduct a comprehensive financial audit” of the Board of Ed’s operations and make the audit public, and to “stop allocating large undisclosed surpluses of $2-3 million without proper review and approval.” It also asks the Board of Ed, Superintendent Janet Robinson and Chief Operating Officer Clarence Zachery to “enact fiscal budgetary measures that ensure at least 80% of the budget is directed [to] services for the classroom and our children.”
Bruce, most known for leading the charge against the proposed sale of the town’s Water Pollution Control Authority plant in 2015, mentioned the petition to the Town Council at Monday’s public forum. Bruce calls the Board of Ed’s spending habits “troubling” and is calling for “greater transparency and budget reform to protect taxpayers from stifling tax increases.”
As of noon Wednesday, 67 people had signed the petition. The petition will eventually be given to Mayor John Harkins, Robinson, Town Council members, and Board of Ed members.
The Board of Ed voted last week for a proposed $110.49-million budget for the next fiscal year. Harkins’ proposed $220.3-million townwide plan would give the schools a $109.3-million outlay. The overall proposal would increase taxes by .94 mills.
Harkins responded to Bruce’s petition, saying in an email statement that the schools could not withstand “draconian cuts.”
“We all want lower taxes and better schools. The simple fact is, draconian cuts to our education system not only deprive our children of a solid education, but also diminish property values, which only further increases the mill rate,” Harkins said via email.