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Monday, February 24 News

BOE combs through budget

FAIRFIELD — While the special election was wrapping up, the Fairfield Board of Education looked further into the recently presented 2020-21 budget. The budget calls for a $7.7 million increase from the year before.

According to the agenda, the board went over topics such as contracted services, instructional services and tuition in the Jan. 14 meeting. Superintendent Mike Cummings said the meeting was procedural and that they followed the agenda closely as he answered questions the board had about various sections of the budget.

One portion of the budget calls for changes to the central administrative offices of the school system. He said the majority of central office will remain the same with one change being the addition of the new position — director of operations and processes.

“That is really someone that we want to come in and manage our processes and operations,” said Cummings. “How do we improve our efficiencies? How do we ensure that we are more responsive to our students?”

Cummings said the responsibilities of the person in that job will include trying to cut through the bureaucracy and red tape to find efficiencies in the budget. As an example, Cummings said they might try to find out if multiple people are doing the same job.

“Anything that can make us better,” said Cummings, “and let us make sure that (as much money spent as possible) is going into the classroom.”

Cummings said many of the questions asked were about cost increases in funding for special education and other areas requiring a more specialized curriculum.

“It’s really about how we as a district respond to working with a more diverse population,” said Cummings. “People are trying to understand what that looks like and how we quantify that to some degree.”

Christine Vitale, Chairwoman of the Board of Education, said the budget put out by the administration was responsible and would help the school system continue to deliver the high quality of education it is known for.

Vitale said she did not want to speak for the rest of the board but hoped that it would pass the budget, adding that she will ask board members about their support in the next meeting on Jan. 21.

Vitale said she also hopes to see it approved by the Board of Selectman, Board of Finance, and Representative Town Meeting (RTM).

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