No one will be immune to the fiscal crisis. That's the message that came across during Hartford's Board of Education meeting Tuesday night. While there was no mention of the budget on the agenda, it quickly became the focus for the hundreds in attendance.
With both the state and city facing gaping budget shortfalls, Hartford Public School officials acknowledge that difficult decisions will need to be made.
"This year the situation is much worse because we just have nowhere to go while also facing a budget gap of approximately $20 million. We have no choice but to face the current reality that we have been able to put off year after year," Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez told the crowd of teachers and parents.
Teachers spoke before the BOE pointing out that they're already struggling for supplies and equipment and that it's hindering their ability to teach students. They also expressed frustration over a lack of communication from school officials.
The superintendent told teachers that she's already making cuts at the central office and that she's not asking schools to do anything that she's not willing to do.
"I am eliminating a third of my senior leadership team. I am then asking my team to make cuts within their departments so we can give back to schools and save everything we possibly can," said Schiavino-Narvaez.
Hartford Public Schools Director of Communications and Marketing released this statement on behalf of the district:
"Hartford Public Schools is in the midst of the budgeting process and we are closely reviewing the alternatives available. Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez plans to submit her budget proposal at the Board of Education Budget Workshop scheduled for April 5th.
"We are heading into our 8th consecutive year of flat funding with increasing costs of supplies and services. There is a tight financial situation at the state and city levels. Those are our primary funders. Given the dwindling resources and bleak financial projections for city and state coffers, we are facing some very difficult decisions that will impact every school and every administrative office at Hartford Public Schools.
"However, we will continue to keep these spending cuts away from the classroom. Our pie may be smaller as we head into the new academic year, but we will continue to invest around 82% of our budget resources directly in our schools."