SPS Could Be Slammed With Even More Budget Cuts

John Bolognino, Staff Writer

The future of the Stamford Public School Systems lies in the hands of politicians.

If lawmakers fail to reach an agreement on the state budget this week, the Stamford Public Schools System (SPS) stands to lose an additional $700,000 in state funding, bringing the grand total to almost $3 million in cuts to the current school year budget. Stamford School Superintendent Earl Kim said that “80 percent [of the cut] will have to be personnel costs,” which represents seven teaching positions. Kim was quick to add that he will ask the City of Stamford for a supplemental appropriation of $700,000 to cover the loss of state aid. Kim says he will not be making any changes to the school personnel until all attempts at seeking additional funding from the city have been exhausted.

The original $2.1 million state funding cut resulted in the defunding of “23 para and 3 central office positions, plus other non-personnel costs,” according to Kim. The Board of Education voted to defund these positions so that they can be restored as soon as the money is available.

Statewide, school systems are suffering due to the budget impasse. Kim pointed out that the city of Stratford has lost more than $20 million in state funding so far, almost 10 times the amount initially lost by Stamford.  School systems statewide are suffering so heavily that the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) has filed a lawsuit against Governor Dannel Malloy, claiming that his executive order, which cut $557 million statewide, is unconstitutional and dangerous. More on this part of the story can be found on the CEA website.

State lawmakers are at odds over how to make up for a $3.5 billion deficit for the two fiscal years that began on July 1, 2017. According to our state’s constitution, lawmakers must pass a balanced biennial budget every two years. Both Democrats and Republicans acknowledge the need to change the way the state taxes and spends, but they are at odds over how to do so. Regardless, if a budget is not put in place by the end of this week, municipalities will have to deal with additional losses of state funding.

What can we do about this? Kim answered the question this way: “Our legislators have a tough job. Let them know that you understand how tough their jobs are.  At the same time, though, encourage them to balance parochial interests with the long-term interests of all in our State and to make incremental gains on the structural cost issues in our state budget.”