Board of Ed gets political over Malloy’s budget proposals

February 24, 2017

GREENWICH — Diving reluctantly into politics, the Greenwich Board of Education took a stance on several items contained within Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s recent budget proposal at their meeting on Thursday night.

After lengthy conversation and much hesitation, the school board agreed upon this statement: “It is the sense of the Board of Education that we oppose the negative impact for Governor Malloy’s proposals for Special Education Excess Cost Grants, Education Cost Sharing Grants and teacher retirement system funding. Further the Board of Education should advocate and educate about the diversity of need of our student body and community to various constituencies.”

Peter Sherr, BOE chair and spokesman for the group, argued that it was necessary for the board to decide their position on Malloy’s proposals because he has received many inquiries asking for the board’s reaction to them and he has only been able to give his opinion.

In the meeting, the school board identified four specific items that Malloy’s administration is advancing that have a direct impact on Greenwich Public Schools.

Malloy’s budget proposal would cut Greenwich’s Education Cost Sharing Grant from $136,859 this fiscal year to zero in the next two fiscal years. In FY 2014-15 and 2015-16, this grant was more than $3 million.

In addition, the Governor’s budget calls for no special education grant money to be sent to Greenwich in FY 2016-17 and 2017-18. In 2014-15 and 2015-16, Greenwich received $1.4 million and $727,097 in Special Education Excess Cost grants, respectively. The school district does not yet know how much it will be awarded in the current fiscal year.

The board discussed Malloy’s proposal that municipalities pick up one third of the cost of teacher’s pensions beginning in fiscal year 2016-17. The full cost of teachers pensions has traditionally been born by the state.

The proposal would land Greenwich with a $10.1 million bill in 2017-18; $10.4 million the following year.

Finally, the board included in their conversation recommendations from members of Malloy’s administration that the New Lebanon School construction project not receive the 80 percent state reimbursement that it is entitled to by state statute based on its “diversity school” status.

The town is counting on the state to cover more than $20 million of the new school’s projected $37 million price tag.

The New Lebanon project is currently on the school construction grants list which is under review by legislative committees before it heads to the General Assembly later this spring.

emunson@greenwichtime.com; Twitter: @emiliemunson