BOE approves budget
WINSTED — The Winchester Board of Education approved Superintendent Thomas Danehy’s proposed budget for fiscal 2012-13 at a special meeting held Thursday, March 8.The vote to approve the proposed budget was 3-2, with board members Richard Dutton, Mari-Ellen Valyo and Joseph Hanecak voting for the budget. Board members Christine Royer and James Roberts voted against the budget.Board Chairman Susan Hoffnagle along with members Monique Parks-Abreu, Carol Palomba and Brian Shaughnessy were not present at the meeting.The total budget amount approved by the board is $22,007,740, a 2.39 percent increase over this current school year’s budget.Between the budget hearing on Feb. 23 and the meeting, Danehy proposed cutting $57,500 from the budget by not hiring a curriculum coordinator for the district.The coordinator would oversee programs from kindergarten through 12th grade and would be paid $57,500 plus benefits by the district.The other half of the curriculum coordinator’s salary and benefits would be paid by The Gilbert School, which currently handles the district’s seventh- through 12th-grade classes.At the meeting, Danehy said that in lieu of a curriculum coordinator, he would be taking on all curriculum coordinator responsibilities.“Where did this cut come from? Did someone in Town Hall ask you to cut your budget?” Hanecak asked Danehy.Danehy said that the cut was not directed by anyone in the town’s government.He said that, while the school district is asking for a 2.39 percent increase from the current school year’s budget, the Gilbert School is asking for a 5.6 percent increase.“Does that not seem right to anyone else?” Hanecak asked the board.Dutton asked Danehy whether Gilbert would pull out $57,500 from their proposed budget if the school district decided to cut out the curriculum coordinator.“They can leave it in and apply it somewhere else,” Danehy said.Dutton said he was strongly in favor of leaving the position in the budget.“[Danehy] made a very good argument before that the district should have a curriculum coordinator,” Dutton said. “I am in favor of leaving it in. I strongly suspect that the Board of Selectmen will cut our budget to the minimum budget requirement (MBR), so I have a strong feeling that we will be meeting around this table again to discuss this.”Valyo agreed with Dutton.“We get no brownie points for cutting the position from our budget,” Valyo said. “Educationally, this is what is right. I’m worried that Gilbert could choose to keep $57,000. Since they shared it in their proposed budget, we can’t control it.”Royer disagreed with both Dutton and Valyo.“I have been the first person to say that we need a curriculum coordinator, but we’ve been without one,” Royer said. “But the projected opinion coming out from Town Hall about this budget will not be favorable.”The next step in the school district’s proposed budget is for the Board of Selectmen to review the budget request at a special meeting.