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School Budget Presentations Were Great

Great job and thank you to everyone who spoke on behalf of the BOE's recommended budget at last nights BOF meeting.

I attended the Board of Finance meeting last night and wanted to thank everyone who spoke on behalf of the Board of Education's recommended budget. The presentations were fantastic, well researched and organized, and provided salient information supporting the . In addition to the time and effort the presenters took to speak before the BOF last night, it is obvious that countless hours of work went into creating the powerpoint presentations and speeches.  

I want to make sure that everyone who was involved in these presentations, including the Council of Darien School Parents, the PTO Chairs, and all the school Budget Representatives, all know that Darien public school parents like myself really appreciate everything you have done. The Board of Finance has some very difficult decisions to make and you have provided them with an enormous amount of supporting evidence to accept the Board of Education's recommended budget.  

Great job and thank you!

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Alex Tytler March 18, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Money doesn't grow on trees, but you people act like other people money is free money. Maybe it's because you are taking more in educational services than you are paying in property taxes, and you'll be long gone when it comes time to pay the piper?
Susan Vogel March 18, 2012 at 04:52 PM
The annual process for setting the school budget involves the Board of Finance, whose members take their responsibility to our schools and community very seriously. Due in large part to the BoF's fiscally conservative management and oversight of our town's finances, Darien holds claim to the third lowest mill rate in Connecticut, while ranking third in ability to pay. School parents are very mindful of the investment the town makes in our schools, and have assumed some of the responsibility through an activities fee ($100 per student) at DHS, paying for field trips, subscriptions to magazines and music software programs, among other costs. At the elementary level, the PTOs contribute $100 per student annually, totaling $234,000 this year, to fund unmet classroom and building needs. Gifts from the PTOs, booster clubs and community groups totaled $340k in 2010/11. All of these gifts together represent close to 15% of the total regular education operating budget. Our community's desirability to home buyers rests in large part on the reputation of our school district. Maintaining the level of excellence that has earned our schools a national ranking requires annual investment. We moved here before we had children and will be here long after both our girls graduate from DHS. The pay-off in the investment we make in our schools, for all of us, comes when we monetize that investment in education through the sale of our #1 asset, our homes, whenever that may be.
sebastian dangerfield March 19, 2012 at 03:30 AM
I witnessed for years the high quality of decision making that occurs at the BOE and BOF level. Its difficult to argue. That being said, I think it would make a lot more sense to have at least 10% of the BOE be made up of non-parents. We seem to get spending advocates...and the idea of saying no to programs is sacrosanct --because saying no to "their program--means they might say NO to your program. However, I again say that I never witnessed any irresponsibility--and the idea of expanding the language program is a good one---but only if they get good teachers. My memory was that it was a weakness 15 years ago, and from what I understand, the language teachers have room for improvement.
Clara Sartori March 19, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Not everyone on the Board of Education has kids in the school system.
Darien Taxpayer March 23, 2012 at 09:01 AM
Susan Vogel:  No one disagrees with having excellent schools and programs or the impact on house values.  No one questions the sincerity of parents organized from every school who get up and plead for every single piece of spending - they actually believe what they are saying and the presentations are well done.  But it no longer resonates and for good reason.  After last year's vote at the RTM, you would think those running things would recognize the shot across the bow that the never-ending increases, even in tough tough economic times, were wearing thin.  Apparently not, and they may well pay the price if the BOF doesn't pull their fat from the fire. Many of the people on the RTM have done this for a long time and over the years the CDSP has lost a lot of credibility.  The problem goes even deeper and in recent years, the BOE Administration has lost substantial credibility as well.  Superintendent Falcone's first-pass budget submission of 9.5% was so outrageous it left many people's mouths agape.  We are paying this man almost a quarter million dollars a year and he submits a bloated budget like that? Where was any respect for the taxpayer?   When costs could go down, there are suddenly new incremental programs like world languages and the empire expansion continues. Let's hope the BOF gets this down.  After last year, testing the RTM with a large increase would not seem to be a good idea.

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