As a member of the Shelton Board of Education for over 10 years, I disagree with the recent comment by Vice Chairman Jimmy Orazietti, quoted in the Shelton Herald, saying that “depositing the excess funds in this account encourages the BOE to save, rather than output “. frivolously on non-essential things that were all too often practiced in the past. “
To say that we spent money frivolously couldn’t be further from the truth and it should be noted that this is the personal opinion of Mr. Orazietti, not the position of the majority of the BOE.
The Shelton Board of Education has been funded with lump or minimal funding for many years, which means that we have laid off more than 48 certified employees in the past four years, in addition to secretaries, supervisors, administrators and auxiliaries. Jobs were also cut through fluctuation and did not replace all resignations or retirements. Improvements to our schools and curricula have been postponed again and again due to lack of funds.
Orazietti wrongly gives the public the impression that we have not handled money responsibly. This year it is only thanks to the COVID funding from the American Cares Act that it is finally possible to make major technological upgrades and become a one-on-one district that lags far behind many neighboring districts. The public needs to be aware that your BOE spends money sparingly and wisely on quality education for our students. We are not reckless as assumed.
Additionally, in a recent letter to the editor written by Republican Carl Rizzo, he points to the decline in enrollments in recent years, especially last year when we had a decline of 248 students. What he doesn’t mention is that due to COVID, a large portion of these students have been withdrawn from Shelton Public Schools to either be homeschooled or enrolled in private schools that attended five days a week. We will likely see many of these students return in the fall.
Rizzo also cites an increase in spending per student, without mentioning the accompanying increase in the number of special schools from 12.3 percent of enrollments in 2014-15 to 16.9 percent last year. The increase in spending per student is not a direct result of a decrease in school enrollment or anything on the city side. The main reason for this number is the cost of special education, many of which require expensive outplacement.
Additionally, several of the BOE’s accomplishments in the past two years that he spearheads have not been city-funded, including laptops for teachers and staff, increased network speeds, one-to-one Chromebooks, and the new Wit and Wisdom Reading Program, all financed by funded money from the American Cares Act, as mentioned above.
“No fee for pre-k program” was just a course correction. When we introduced a fee for the Pre-k due to a lack of funding, the enrollment of regular education colleagues, which is required by law, decreased, so we did not charge any fees again. It should also be noted that “more than $ 5 million refunded dollars” was money that went into town rather than into the BOE coffers.
I warn citizens to double-check the “facts” they have read as this is actually an election year, or as a former colleague called it “silly time of year”.
Kate Kutasch (D)
Shelton Board of Education