Petition asks for flat 2017-18 Board of Ed budget

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

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, 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.


About author
Editor for the Stratford Star. Former reporter for the Darien Times.

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  • Kevin Mathews

    Go get ’em Henry! Best thing we could see in this town is Janet & Clarence wearing orange jump suits and being in a cell next to John Rowland.

  • Thayer

    Agree 100%!! Pouring money into the BOE isn’t the answer, don’t they realize what the taxpayers want… Are they that blind and deaf! The waste in this town has surpassed any good that can be accomplished by throwing hard working people’s money at it! We have a serious problem in this town and if things continue we will be a bad neighborhood of bridgeport!! There are towns with lower BOE budgets with better schools!!! It’s not the money, it is our leaders making a mess of the BOE. My uncle was a Superintendent of Schools and he is ashamed at hoe Stratford has wasted money with no I mean nooooooo improvement in the children of Stratfords education! And the new Economic development director, wow what a waste of money that is!,

  • Greg Cann

    In an era where Stratford’s BOE cannot publish a viable budget (their last report anticipated a $10m surplus for this year, after encumbrances!) and where BOE actual expenditures are not really “actual” because BOE cannot report what’s its actually spending money on! That’s their explanation – not mine! It is poor judgement for Mayor Harkins to allege draconian or any type of cuts will be necessary, when the BOE cannot tell us emphatically what our money is being spent on. Mayor Harkins would better serve Stratford’s taxpayers and public school students by requiring our BOE reconcile its expenditures to the production of of quality outcomes. Spending more for the sake of spending more is not legitimate investment. What diminishes our property values is a leadership that violates the public trust through failures in accountability and spending without controls.

    • Bill

      This current council, in February, just approved money for a new field house at Bunnell with money that the BOE hoarded in other loaned (bonded out) Bunnell projects with no consideration of the taxpayers. No debate no discussion. Taxpayers do not believe anything. When are you guys going to prove what you mentioned in the first two lines of your comment ? If what you say is true then the rules need to be changed. Can you convince the others to use the town of Stratford bureaucracy to change the rules? Good luck, the same players continue feed themselves.
      Property values continue to plummet because of high taxes. The past several councils used the same reasons over and over, if we cut taxes it means we have to cut services. So cut, make the cuts, pay the tax payers back. You have department heads for a reason, Let them make the cuts.
      I do agree the BOE does not know how much they really have both in liquid assets or hard assets. Absolutely no accountability to anyone. It’s like the point the finger town of Stratford government.

      • Trevor

        I think Greg & Mitzie have uncovered Stratford’s black hole of waste within the BOE & WPCA. These 2 departments both need extensive audits. Why don’t the 2 big BOE abusers Janet & Clarence take a cut in pay in order to balance the budget. I wonder if these 2 balance their home budgets this way, I think not. Too bad Stratford PD doesn’t investigate their fraudulent acts in the BOE, i.e. “Cooking the books”.

  • Trevor

    Can someone post the link to sign the petition please.

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