by Steve Taccogna
Stratford Democratic Town Committee
The Stratford Democratic Town Committee issued the following statement following the decision by the Republican majority on the Town Council to reject the Board of Education’s full budget request:
Despite Stratford schools now being ranked as among the worst-performing in the state, the Republicans on the Town Council have refused to give our school officials the tools they need to improve schools and make the town a more attractive place to live and raise children.
The Council voted 6-4 this week to approve Mayor Hoydick’s $248.9 million budget proposal that fully funds all town departments at their requested budget level. It also includes substantial raises for many top town employees.
However, the budget did not fully fund the Board of Education’s well-researched request for a 4.57% increase at a time when our students are regaining a sense of stability in their school environments and the state recently designated Stratford an Alliance District.
The Mayor’s proposed budget was amended prior to the vote including the application of Alliance District funding. This completely defeats the intent – and opportunity – of this designation for our school district and students. Additionally, this designation calls into question concerns from some Republican majority Councilors about overfunding based on prior BOE budget surpluses.
The Democratic Town Councilors proposed amendments that put our children first by prioritizing and investing in the future of Stratford.
Dozens of teachers, students, and parents had rallied outside Town Hall ahead of a Council meeting earlier this week, voicing their concerns and calling for increases.
All four Democrats on the Council remained united in their support of fully funding the BOE budget proposal, heard their neighbors, and combined with others’ concerns with the Mayor’s proposal, voted against the final budget.
Our committee agrees with their joint statement about the tragic misuse of Alliance District funding, a targeted investment, to fill an operational gap. As our Town Councilors said, “We understand that at this specific moment in time, our students deserve not only their basic needs met but the opportunity for the bold, innovative reforms this funding was created to deliver.”