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

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.

Superintendent’s Proposed Budget Calls for Changed Start Time Schedule To Take Effect Mid-Academic Year 2021-22

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi on Monday night proposed a spending plan for next academic year that includes funding for widely discussed changes to start times. The estimated $463,337—part of an overall $95.7 million proposed operating budget—would cover transportation- and staff-related costs associated with changing school start times mid-year, Luizzi told members of the Board of Education during their regular meeting. The changes—which would see elementary schools start at 7:45 a.m., New Canaan High School at 8:30 a.m., seventh and eighth grades at 8:35 a.m. and fifth and sixth grades at 9:15 a.m.—represent the same schedule that the Board of Education had brought before the Town Council last April in making a funding request that the legislative body ultimately rejected. Luizzi said the change is a student health-and-wellness initiative that’s designed to align schedules with established, scientific data on sleep. He said district officials are anticipating that the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the way schools operate when they open Aug.

Op-Ed: The 36-Cent Solution

In April the Town Council was asked to make a choice. Should we provide funding for start time changes to increase sleep for 2,700 students, thereby improving their health and safety? Or, should we reduce property taxes on median-value homes by about $11 a month—the equivalent of 36 cents a day? 

By an 8-4 vote, the Town Council chose the 36-cent solution. 

We believe when families move to New Canaan an implicit bargain is struck. The Board of Education agrees to provide great schools while taxpayers agree to provide sufficient funds to keep them great. The 36-cent solution prevented taxpayers from keeping that bargain.