Moynihan on Superintendent’s Proposed Board of Ed Budget: ‘I Wasn’t Too Happy’

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New Canaan’s highest elected official said Tuesday night that he’s unhappy with the spending plan that the superintendent of schools has proposed for next fiscal year.

The Board of Education is expected to vote later this month on Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi’s $95.7 million operating budget for fiscal year 2022. Driven mainly by salary and benefits, it includes about $460,000 for what Luizzi described Monday as a student health and wellness initiative in the form of new start times. 

The approved Board of Ed budget for the current fiscal year is $90.9 million, town finance documents show. The Town Council in making its final budget vote last April reduced the Board of Ed’s requested amount by about $1 million, effectively forestalling a change to school start times.

Addressing the Board of Finance during its regular meeting, Moynihan said, “The budget numbers are coming together very nicely on the town side. I wasn’t too happy—and Todd can elaborate if he wants to— about the Board of Ed numbers we’re hearing. But I am very pleased with what we see on the town side. I think you will be pleasantly surprised, as well.”

Moynihan referred to Board of Finance Chair Todd Lavieri. The first selectman’s comments came during a general update on matters before the town.

Lavieri said in response, “As it relates to the Board of Ed: no comment. We just need to see the details.”

The Board of Finance has set budget guidance this year at an increase of 1.5% to 2%.

Luizzi’s proposed spending plan is posted online in a 134-page document.

The Board of Selectmen is scheduled to start its public budget review next week, with the Board of Finance to follow starting Feb. 8. The budget then moves to the Town Council in March, with a final vote March 31.

3 thoughts on “Moynihan on Superintendent’s Proposed Board of Ed Budget: ‘I Wasn’t Too Happy’

  1. I am surprised that the First Selectman is passing public judgement on a proposed school superintendent’s budget for 2021-22 when the Board of Education has not yet reviewed or approved it. Isn’t there a process in place that routes the budgets through town boards before they get to the top?

  2. Why not? The First Selectman is considered an “ex officio” member of The
    Board of Finance. I am glad to see that someone is watching out for tax payers. Certainly Dr Luizzi isn’t.

  3. “I Wasn’t Too Happy”? That is a very tempered response considering the BOE budget that has been put forth. So, are we looking at a 5.3% year over year increase in the budget during these uncertain times? Covid-19 has been a stress to our school system and our families. Any net expenses to safely help our students adjust at this time is definitely a priority and should have full support (in Net expenses I am referring to additional expenses against savings, like cancelled programs or athletics). However, I believe people should be appalled by the re-insertion of the Start Time initiative into this years budget during these trying times. To do so appears blind to the fact that the BOE budget request already represents greater than a 4.5% increase over last year without the Start Time Initiative. This increase well exceeds other town department expenses and is approximately 4 times the inflation rate.

    And for those that feel $460k is somehow palatable for a plan that many feel will adversely affect many children, I believe there may be some confusion. I am not sure of the deferred expense accounting method they are employing, since they plan on starting this mid-term but to my knowledge the $1 million price tag for this proposal has not changed and we will be paying the full price tag.

    I believe after years of pressure on the Town Council under the BOE mantra “but, it’s for the kids” they took a stand and sent a message that it is not feasible to have BOE budgets continually grow at this rate. They too need to be fiscally responsible and tighten the purse strings where they can. Large expenditures such as the one proposed should be justified and should represent the wishes of the town.

    Some Town Council members have indicated that they cannot dictate BOE spending on a line item basis, and I agree 99% of the time. I don’t feel that Town Council members should dictate the cost of pencils or if an additional teacher is necessary. However, under its own rules Article 2 Sub II it appears clear that the Town Council will have an Education Committee and “It shall have the responsibility to review all of the New Canaan School System’s proposed operating and capital expenditures.” I can only assume that “review” is not simply to rubber stamp any $1MM expenditure. Honestly, if you feel that your role is simply to approve any and all expenditures that the BOE requests, than I am not sure what value you are adding to this process.

    Everyone should be aware that this Start Time Proposal does not appear any different from the one that was presented and rejected last year. Perhaps the only significant difference is that the BOE budget request already appears greater this year than it was last year without this addition.

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