Saturday, July 20, 2024

Letter To The Editor

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Budget Vote Facts
Councilman Alvin O’Neal –┬áDistrict – 3

The vote for the Stratford Town Budget is always of utmost importance, and we all dedicate countless hours to serving our constituencies to the best of our ability.

Over the past weeks, I’ve dedicated extensive time and effort to thoroughly researching and engaging with various stakeholders, including Acting Superintendent Borges, Board of Education members, teachers, principals, students, Town Department Heads, and even organizing a session with the Alpha Program and a representative from the Crier for firsthand information.

My main focus has been advocating for crucial programs like the Alpha Program and retaining teachers, librarians, reading specialists, and math tutors. Through negotiations with Acting Superintendent Borges, Town Council Members, and the Mayor’s office, I secured a compromise resulting in the Board of Ed receiving $134 million, exceeding the 6.69% requested.

This compromise included $2 million in unrestricted surplus funds and an additional $500k, giving them flexibility in allocating resources for vital services while preventing layoffs or program cuts, plus $5.2 million in State funding. While compromises cannot satisfy all demands, they pave a path forward. My decision wasn’t based on partisanship but on what I believed would serve our community, students, and educators best, backed by extensive research and assurances from key decision-makers.

While some peers focused on increasing the Minimum Budget Requested (MBR) by tapping into reserve funds, I stood by fiscal responsibility and the 2007 ordinance requiring a 10% reserve fund balance untouched to protect our bond rating.

I’m open to questions or differing opinions and always available for dialogue to provide further clarity. Transparency and accountability are crucial, ensuring constituents and the public understand my decision-making rationale.

1 COMMENT

  1. I just sent an email to Dr. David Chess in which I expressed a wish that I doubt I will ever see met. It is this: that the BOE, belabored as it is, hold an open eeting to which were invited students from the high schools–and lower grades as well–to be seriously and respectfully interviewed as to their opinions about the state of education in Stratford, what they need, how it could be improved. You mention that you engaged them, though they seem rather lost in that list. I should think they have primary importance. There is great concern about them and their welfare; but somehow we never hear from them. I think the matter has more to do with their well-being than politics and budgets. I have found that when first things come first all the rest have a way of finding their proper places.

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