Ansonia, BOE headed to court today
ANSONIA-After months of demonstrations, rallies, posturing and verbal disputes the city, its Board of Education and the teacher’s union are headed to Derby Superior Court this morning.
There Superior Court Judge Barry K. Stevens will begin hearing oral argument on the Board’s request for summary judgment seeking the return of $600,000 it claims the city illegally removed from its 2017-18 budget. Frederick Dorsey, who represents the Board, will be joined in the argument by Eric Chester, the lawyer for the Ansonia Federation of Teachers.
The teacher union claims the cuts have led to several teaching positions being eliminated and some classrooms reaching 30 or more students, many with learning disabilities, making it difficult to teach.
The city claims the $600,000 was given to the Board of Education during the 2017-18 to help it weather the state budget crisis. The city, which is represented by Vincent Marino, said the school board eventually received $1.8 million from the state while the city was cut $1 million. As a result it claims it invoked a state law passed during the crisis that allows it to reduce a school board budget.
Lawyers for the teachers, the school board and even the state’s Board of Education claim that action is illegal. They maintain the state Minimum Budget Requirement law not only prohibits the city from reducing a school board’s budget once approved but also requires it include the removed amount in each succeeding budget. That means they say city must not only give back the $600,000 taken from the 2017-18 budget but also include it in the 2018-19 budget.
The Board has since sued the city and the teacher’s union has joined it. In June, the city agreed to a mediated settlement which required they place $500,000 in a contingency fund to help the school board meet end of the 2017-18 school year expenses.
The current school board budget is $31,860,483 about half of the city’s $63,524,255 budget for 2018-19.
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.