Budget stalemate continues between BOE and council



State budget and educational funding concerns continue to be prominent at Board of Education meetings. At the Oct. 12 BOE meeting, chair Brian Goralski took the next step by proposing a date for a meeting with the Town Council and Board of Finance.

At the last BOE meeting, Sept. 29, Goralski responded to the Town Council’s original request from Sept. 22, written out in a letter and sent to the Superintendent of Schools and to Town Manager Garry Brumback. The council’s letter asked them to “prepare for the possibility that this Education Cost Sharing payment will not come through as expected,” and specifically to prepare a list by Oct. 20 of how the departments would absorb this $5 million cut.

Goralski’s response letter, read out loud at the last BOE meeting, noted that the council, according to the town charter, did not have the power to address the superintendent, and further, that the BOE felt uncomfortable preparing the list.

Members of the board expressed that doing so would instill unnecessary stress and anxiety on education staff, on students and on parents who would fear for their jobs or services.

On Oct. 12, Goralski said he has not yet received a formal response to his letter.

“I know the council meets on this coming Monday, [Oct. 16,] so I await any response or follow up to my reply,” said Goralski. He noted that minority leader Chris Palmieri and council chair Michael Riccio from the council attended the Sept. 29 BOE meeting. “I did speak to [BOF chair] Mr. Leary and he is on board with a collaborative meeting, so I still think that’s the best way to move forward.”

BOE member Robert Brown suggested that the board invite Riccio and Leary to their next meeting on Oct. 27.

“If this board is ok… I’m all for inviting them, the two chairs, to our meeting and make it a town government agenda item,” said Goralski. “Rather than set up a new meeting we’ll invite them here to our meeting; all nine of us are going to be there.”

Despite the plea, the Town Council did not directly address the board’s response at their Oct. 16 meeting. However, during public communications, resident Phil Pomposi addressed budget woes that the BOE faces, to which Riccio responded.

“Phil, I just want to say in response to that: the manager’s office is ready for worse-case-scenario as we sit right now,” said Riccio. “I can’t speak for BOE, but this board is ready right now.”

No date was scheduled for a joint meeting, but no action was taken on the budget.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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