All-Day K Gets School Board Endorsement as Part of $85.33 Million Budget

The Southington Board of Education Thursday passed a $85.33 million budget for the 2013-14 school year, a 3.51 percent increase over the existing budget, while heavily supporting implementation of all-day kindergarten.

The Southington Board of Education on Thursday took on the challenges of finalizing a $85.33 million budget for the 2013-14 school year, but as members of the public came forward to express their opinions, the focus was on one $400,000 item: all-day kindergarten.

Supporters of all-day kindergarten came out in force for the second straight meeting, filling the assembly room at the Municipal Center to request that the board not only keep the all-day kindergarten proposal in the budget.

The voices did not go unheard, as the board by voice vote chose 8-1 to back the proposal for the upcoming year.

Board of Education member Jill Notar-Francesco said although she struggled with the decision and had a hard time to find data showing direct positive education advancements, the town shows a need to take action and to do so now.

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“I’m very data driven, although I can appreciate the social piece and the development piece. I asked for data and in the last several days, I did get that data in the form of (developmental reading assessment) and language arts,” she said. “At the end of last year, almost one third of our kindergarten students were not meeting their benchmark, and that’s why I’m voting yes.”

The proposal for all-day kindergarten has drawn considerable feedback from the community, with residents expressing opinions both for and against over the past several months, but those in attendance at the Board of Education meeting Thursday each said there is a need.

Bill Lutz, a Plantsville resident, said that times have changed since “we were all kids,” and told members of the board he not only supports all-day kindergarten but that the board should make it be the top priority.

“We all went to kindergarten, some a long time ago. It was a time for us to play and have fun, but the world has changed since then,” Lutz said. “Some may embrace that change, some may not, but that change is real. Kindergarten is now places of reading, writing, mathematics and social studies. It doesn’t leave time for developmental play, interpersonal relationships and socialization.”

“One of the enemies of excellence is to know what you have is good. We need to aspire to be more than OK, to aspire to be more than good, to aspire to be more than very good. We need to aspire to greatness,” he said.

While some board members expressed concerns, however, it ultimately came down to the need to better prepare students for the future and even board member Zaya Oshana, who teetered on the edge before voicing opposition, said it’s time to back the budget as a whole.

In the end, board member David Derynoski said it came down to six words.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said.

The 2013-14 Board of Education budget passed on Thursday evening did see some reduction, however, as members went line item through line item to seek reductions before falling on a budget requesting a 3.51 percent increase over the current operating budget.

The budget represents a reduction of $1.12 million from the $86.45 million budget initially presented by Southington School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr.

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WhiskeyTangoFoxrot January 25, 2013 at 02:01 PM
Other than the cost. Why do we need a all day kindergarten? The 1/2 day kindergarten has been around ever since I can remember. These are 5 year old kids why do they need to be kept in school that long?
Arthur Cyr January 25, 2013 at 02:24 PM
BECAUSE.... they started these programs in the large inner city schools and had great success and have used that to spread the concept outward into other school districts. AND if you listen to the PROponents, half will tell you the children need more time for socialization, while the other half will tell you they need more time to teach the basics like reading , writing and math. REALLY?? Which is it? This is unnecessary. Just say NO! Starve the beast!
John Leary January 25, 2013 at 02:51 PM
Assuming that the Board of Education operating budget is 64% of total town spending then a 1.5% increase in BOE spending is equivalent to a 2.7% increase in “general government” spending. The 3.51% spending increase requested by the BOE will increase the total Town of Southington budget by 2.25%. Therefore all increases in spending on the town side will increase the total beyond the 2.25%. The “general government” or town side also has increases in health insurance and contractual increases in salaries and wages that must be factored in before considering other needs and desires. Please contact the Board of Finance to offer opinions and advice as we work towards recommending a total town budget for 2013/14 fiscal year. Contact information provided in link below. http://www.southington.org/content/52/106.aspx
Kristi Sunbury January 25, 2013 at 03:10 PM
It was nice to see there was no negativity in the room last night. Also let us not forget the wonderful group of Mom's who started the Because of 26 group. Please Like on Facebook.
Arthur Cyr January 25, 2013 at 03:20 PM
"It was nice to see there was no negativity in the room last night." Yea, unlike the supporters of any program that push and push and push for MORE, MORE, MORE, the opponents stated their valid reasons and then left it to the BOE to balance the budget needs with wants. They FAILED in their responsibilities to the Town of Southington as a whole and caved in again to the proponents of MORE MORE MORE. Imagine what would happen to your taxes if we did the same to every other department budget. WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO LEVEL SERVICES?? Enrollment is going DOWN, but the budget goes up $2-$4 MILLION every year. This year? Zero budget increase for the BOE! Cut $2 million from this request. Starve the beast!
Kristi Sunbury January 25, 2013 at 03:36 PM
Art how do you suggest our taxes be utilized? You should really put your money where your mouth is and run for an office.
Bill January 25, 2013 at 04:36 PM
Good grief, Kristi, shut your mouth. That's all we need is to have motor mouth run again! I agree with WhiskyTF and I quote: "Why do we need a all day kindergarten? The 1/2 day kindergarten has been around ever since I can remember. These are 5 year old kids why do they need to be kept in school that long?" This is just another in the long list of educational expenditures that Mr. Erardi and his backers on the Board are fostering on the taxpaying public. Once installed, they will never go away. The only thing different is that this will rip young kids out of the 1/2-day home life they now have chasing after some unproven educational improvement. And BTW, Arthur, the city schools have quite a different make up in their educational performance, standards and needs. Don't start playing the typical board of education game to justify getting more toys, "But Mom, Bobby has all-day kindergarten and I want it, too! I wan it, I wan it, I wan it --- naaaaahhh!!!" That is not the justification we should use to implement programs. This is quite the crock.
Arthur Cyr January 25, 2013 at 05:01 PM
Kristi - YOU really need to (A) cut out the personal attacks (B) know what you're talking about. "put your money where your mouth is"??? FYI, I attend 12-22 Town meetings a month watching out for taxpayers money. Not just BOE when a pet project is being discussed, but many Boards, Commissions and committee meetings. Attended things like Board of Water Commissioners and got them to SAVE over $250,000 by doing a Town bond vs a commercial loan. Effect on the Town budget? Like the reduction of $195,000 in Fire Protection charges? The ONLY change in the proposed Town Government budget last year? Put MY money where my mouth is? I do... every week, every month, and have for years. What have YOU ever done? To answer YOUR question - LEVEL SERVICES is the way our taxes should be utilized.
Sandy Feld January 25, 2013 at 05:25 PM
As an elected Board of Finance member, I feel it is imperative that I say Mr. Leary, Chair of the Board of Finance, does not speak for the entire Board. His comments are his opinion, alone, and do not reflect those of the entire Board, and certainly not mine.
Kristi Sunbury January 25, 2013 at 05:53 PM
Talk about personal attacks "gentlemen". My original comment was to be positive that we all as citizens acted respectfully last night and just spoke from the heart. Art it appears from these blogs that you attack anyone who does not agree with you. I comment to you because of your attitude. Can't you speak nicely? Bill - it appears as though your Mother should have washed out your mouth with soap more when you were a child. We teach our children not to say shut up you rude individual. What ever the Board of Finance decides is fine with me I just gave my opinion on one matter.
Arthur Cyr January 25, 2013 at 06:01 PM
NO Kristi - you did NOT"just gave my opinion". But let's be "fair".... Why don't YOU put your money where YOUR mouth is and write a check to the Town for the expansion that you support? And yes, by "no negativity", some people mean no resident spoke last night in opposition to a $2.89 MILLION increase.
Kristi Sunbury January 25, 2013 at 06:13 PM
Yeah Art you are realistic. What was refreshing is not having citizens making assumptions for the parents who support all day kindergarten that we don't want to be with our children and want free daycare. No one last night night who spoke in favor was nasty about the parents who are against. You love to read into things and stir up trouble. Every town has one.
Kristi Sunbury January 25, 2013 at 06:18 PM
And yes, by "no negativity", some people mean no resident spoke last night in opposition to a $2.89 MILLION increase. That was my quote and don't speak for me because that is not what I meant.
Arthur Cyr January 25, 2013 at 06:35 PM
Kristi Sunbury - and above you talk about "being nice", and yet you keep up the nasty personal postings. YOU have a personal agenda. You don't like anybody that doesn't agree with you. Do NOT expect me or others to back away from your aggression and confrontational language. We have our opinion and NO WHERE in my opposition to this proposed budget have I said anything nasty about parents that want All Day K.
Kristi Sunbury January 25, 2013 at 06:54 PM
No you take digs at us personally then we fight back. Peace love and happiness to you. You may just need a hug.
Michelle Brennan January 25, 2013 at 06:58 PM
I honestly hope that the parents of the incoming kindergarten class stay involved in the BOE decisions that will impact their children beyond full day kindergarten. There is only so much money to go around and after next year you won't have a kindergartener, you will have an 1-5 student. At that time when he or she is sitting in an class with too many other students (think 24+ students)an over burdened yet dedicated teacher, a significant core standards curriculum and no paper to make copies in the teacher room among other needs.... You will understand why full day kindergarten is an unnecessary budgeted item. We should keep the interventional program for those in need and maintain the 1/2 day program for those that do not. Do we have the benchmark scores for those kids already in thr full day program? If 1/3 of all kindergarteners do make the benchmark... Are those in the full day program included. That us the data we need to show an all day program works. Otherwise the data is inconclusive on the benefits of full day kindergarten and that 1 million does not need to be spent. If we cannot afford teachers to keep our class sizes under 25 + kids (in at least 1 instance last year we could not afford $30,000 additional budget dollars to keep a class size manageable) than we cannot afford a 1 million dollar program that does not return results and anticipates remediation.
Kristi Sunbury January 25, 2013 at 07:28 PM
Michelle now that my children will be in the school system I will be involved. I loved hearing from the parent about the robotics program last night. The children of Southington are the future.
Sandy Feld January 25, 2013 at 07:30 PM
Tell us how you feel at the Board of Finance Public Hearing on the Budget on March 4 at DePaolo M.S. at 7 p.m.
John Moise January 26, 2013 at 01:03 AM
Factor in a .39% increase in the Grand list which equals an additional $400,000 and there is not much to pay for these increases except our property taxes. Don't forget the state being $1 billion in the hole this year and another $1 billion next year which means no relief for the state. To add how many of us have had an additional 2% taken out of our pay in federal taxes? Many difficult decisions ahead for the BOF and Town Council.
TC January 26, 2013 at 06:25 AM
Ok, Lets see here..... - bonded debt decreased by $6.6 million or 8.5% during the 2011-2012 fiscal year - Standard & Poor’s Rating Services raised its underlying rating on the Town’s general obligation debt two notches from “AA-” to “AA+” due to the Town’s improved financial position, good management practices and low debt burden - The rating agency cited the Town’s “strong financial position,” “low debt burden,” and the “expectation of the consistently strong reserve levels” It's all right there in the "COMPREHENSIVE ANNUAL FINANCIAL REPORT FISCAL YEAR ENDED JUNE 30, 2012" Don't tell me we are in such a horrible spot we can't find money to fund this....
Donald W January 26, 2013 at 10:34 AM
TC, just because we may have the money doesn't mean we have to spend it on this. Wisdom would dictate broader consideration of what the taxpayers want, not what a misguide board does. This is a major philosophical change, not replacing a road. That requires broader input. This board is crooked and is the incumbent government. Regardless of their statements to the contrary, they are busy lining their pockets and solidifying the position. Kristi, you need another valium and Art you need a personality.
Kristi Sunbury January 26, 2013 at 11:37 AM
Donald I hope you are not implying that I am on medication in an open forum insinuating that I am crazy. A few legal phrases come to mind.
John Moise January 26, 2013 at 02:08 PM
TC - You have read the June 30, 2012 CAFR, so you are very informed. However, Now add $89 million to the bonded debt for Middle Schools in 2012/2013 This is if the addition $5 million referendum passes in March $1 million for the Artificial Turf in 2012/2013 $11 million for roads in 2012/2013 These and more will add to the bonded debt for the 2013 CAFR Report If Southington does not continue to spend wisely and debt continues to increase we will go below the AA+ and further than the AA- With a .39% grand list adding only $400,000 to the town of Southington this year our "strong financial position" and "low debt burden"is already compromised. The consistency of strong reserves is because we do not raid this fund because a group of people want to spend the money because it is burning a hole in their pockets Keep spending and not planning properly and the 2013 and 2014 CAFR's will have a negative outcome. If we do not hold the line on spending we will be in a horrible spot. The BOE is adding 3.51% to their budget or $3 million over last year If the Town government adds 2% to their budget or approximately $1.5 million this = over $4.5 million the grand list .39% (came out 1/25) gave Southington $400,000 to offset taxes for 2013/2014 $4.5 million - $400,000 = $4.1 million in addition taxes for Southington taxpayers which include businesses. It is time to start thinking of all taxpayers not just a few.
Michelle Brennan January 26, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Donald Although I disagree with the BOE vote on full day kindergarten I DO NOT believe this is a 'crooked' board. They want what they believe is best for our kids. I know for a fact that they thoughtfully considered this proposition. I wish they had voted the other way. The timing for this spending is not justifiable, nor are the results of full day kindergarten proven, but this is the decision of a thoughtful board. I too want the Southington education system to be great! I want ALL of our students to excel!
Arthur Cyr January 26, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Michelle - I agree with everything you posted above. The timing is wrong, the results are not proven, and the taxpayers simply can NOT continue to accept these BOE demands. Most of our Boards and commissions want what's best for the section of town they represent, be it the BOE, the Parks, Senior Citizens, etc. It is however the responsibility of all these boards to also understand that they can not have it all and/or million dollar increases every year. That's where this BOE went wrong. For them, everything is an important priority. Not this year. We need to say NO and cut their request. Who is going to make up the revenue shortfall in State of CT ECS funding??? Starve the beast in Feb-March and vote them out in November!
John Moise January 26, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Now that All Day K has been voted on by the BOE we need to turn our attention to the BOF and Town Council and figure out our financial situation. Clearly this new programs and staffing cost money and the BOE looks out what is best for the students whether we agree with them or not. Thankfully, the Board of Finance looks over the entire towns financial situation. What we have, what we are projected to get from the grand list, how the state and federal reductions will affect Southington and what we can and cannot afford. So far the financial picture does not warrant increases in services. It may not even warrant level services at this time without a significant tax increase to property tax in Southington. This will not only affect homeowners but businesses as well. Southington cannot afford to lose businesses because of high property taxes. Examine the grand list this is an area we continue to lose revenue from. For all of the "economic development " we have heard over the past 3 years we do not have much to show for it. Contact the BOF Members at boardoffinancemembers@southington.org and let them know your thoughts both positive and negative. The BOE and the group will be at the public hearing in force on March 4 at DePaolo Middle School at 7:00. The rest of the community should be there as well to protect their property taxes from increasing. If you cannot attend then email the BOF. The Chamber of Commerce members should notify the BOF as well.
Ed Costello January 26, 2013 at 05:59 PM
I think I am missing something here. What exactly did Mr. Leary state above that was opinion and not fact and what exactly do you disagree with board member Feld???? Do you not look forward to receiving the “general government” budget, the “capital projects” long range plan, and the grand list, so the members of the board can begin the challenging work of prioritizing all the desires and needs that Southington is facing?
Sue Hobbs January 28, 2013 at 01:50 AM
I find it disturbing that adults would throw around phrases like 'good grief, Kristi, shut your mouth. That's all we need is to have motormouth running.' 'And Kristi you need another valium.' You don't think those are personal attacks? Of course you don't because the people who said those things have superiority complexes and their only ability to feel power is to put other people down. It's not difficult to be polite; even if you are dumb. Good Lord, I hope your children have better role models than you and don't think that the opinions and thoughts of others are so intolerable that they must take to the posting boards and unsult people who don't agree with them. Maybe the the all day kindergarten could offer a lesson or two to the rude and mannerless parents.
E. Taylor January 28, 2013 at 11:30 AM
I just read the Courant's article about Southington all day kindergarten Mand I came away with the question. Why must teachers rush through lessons and lack sufficient time to finish to finish curriculum and provide INDIVIDUAL attention to students? My answer would be poor lesson planning and poor use of time!!!
Debra Dawidowicz January 28, 2013 at 04:41 PM
I have been following this very carefully. My children graduated from Southington schools in 91,92,99, and the last will graduate this year. Although I do not support all day kindergarten for many reasons - the simple fact is we cannot afford more taxes right now. A lot of people cant. My husband has been cut from a 40 hr week to a 32 hr week for almost a year now. Many others have had the same thing happen, or similiar things happen. There are many other things that tax money should be spent on, and increasing the school day for 5 year olds is not one. (And yes I have 9 grandbabies too). Some are home schooled, and some are in schools out of town. The fact is that there are many of us whose children have gone through Southingtons schools just the way they are now and have gone on to do great things. Money is short for many right now. Its not the time.


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