A special meeting of the Board of Education on the budget Tuesday night will not convene as originally planned. Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Jack Chiaramonte said Monday however, that the Board, along with Schools Superintendent Susan Marks and her executive staff, are continuing to work diligently to develop a financial plan that will balance the schools’ budget for the next fiscal year. Once it is done, it will be presented to the full Board and subsequently to the public in June.
"We will have a plan publicly released with plenty of time for commentary by all stakeholders,” said Chiaramonte.
According to the Board, closing the $10 million budget gap is the biggest financial challenge the Norwalk schools have ever faced. Federal and state funding has fallen or remained stagnant. Norwalk continues to be underfunded by about $28 million per year under the State ECS formula. Chiaramonte adds, “Local taxpayers are largely tapped out. We therefore cannot close this gap with increased funding, which means that it must be closed with spending reductions.”
“In recent years the Norwalk Board of Education has struggled mightily to avoid school-based layoffs, cutting administration and other services nearly to the bone,” continued Chiaramonte. “But we have now reached the end of the line on our ability to avoid classroom-level reductions. We know how hard our teachers, principals and staff work every day. But we are in dire straits and we hope that the unions can join us to all pull together and come up with creative solutions to get us through this crisis so we can focus on the job of providing the best education that we can to our children.”
Many school systems around the country are experiencing considerable layoffs of teachers and other school personnel. For example, last week, the Las Vegas school system announced the layoff of more than 1,000 teachers.
The Board is also working with the City to shore up our financial operations and controls, and the Joint Committee (comprised of the Board, Common Council and Board of Estimate) will be meeting this month to look into the best way of bringing about these improvements.
Norwalk Public Schools ensures that the more than 11,000 students in its schools succeed academically and achieve their full potential preparing them for post-secondary learning and a life of meaning and purpose. Through rigorous classroom instruction based on the Common Core Standards, high expectations, and excellence in instruction, NPS builds upon Norwalk’s diversity through a collaborative culture, partnership with parents, and commitment to individuality and growth.