Stratford School Community Protests Budget, Calls for More Funding

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The Stratford school community is calling on town officials to reject a proposed budget increase and rather accept the Board of Education's maintenance budget, which would give more money to the schools.

Instead of accepting only a 2.5% budget increase, students, teachers and parents want town officials to adopt the board's 4.57% increase.

State legislators added Stratford to the list of alliance district towns, which means state support and additional funding for the district, according to the Connecticut Education Association.

“We are already doing more with less, and our schools can’t absorb more cuts,” said Stratford Education Association President Michael Fiorello. “Rejecting the Board of Education budget would result in even fewer resources, the elimination of programs for students, closing a school, larger class sizes, as well as staff layoffs and other cuts that jeopardize the future of Stratford’s children and public education.”

CEA officials said the town intends to use the state alliance district funds to replace, not supplement the town's education budget.

“What town officials are planning to do is unconscionable,” said Stratford Education Association Secondary Vice President Kristen Record. “They are refusing to provide the needed funding for our students, and if that’s not enough, they also plan to take away local funds earmarked for students and education.”

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Students, teachers and parents participated in a rally Monday night, calling for more education funding.

The rally took place on the town hall lawn at 5 p.m. Attendees were asked to wear red and make homemade signs.

State law prohibits towns from budgeting less for education than they did the previous fiscal year. But the CEA says an amendment was added that exempts Stratford from the minimum budget requirement.

“This amendment flies in the face of open, honest and transparent government,” Fiorello said. “The law is meant to protect students and the public from exactly what happened here. Our town officials must stand up to this injustice and do what’s right for our students.”

Teachers are asking people in the school community to write to members of the town council, urging them to fully fund the education budget.

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