Maintenance allocation questioned after deferred maintenance led to mold problems School budget request drops
STAMFORD — Superintendent Earl Kim has already decreased his budget proposal for next school year by $930,000.
However, Board of Education members are concerned about the areas from which those cuts are coming.
On Tuesday night, the Board met in a special meeting following their regularly scheduled one to continue their ongoing budget discussions. There, Director of Finance Hugh Murphy pointed out to the board where cuts were made in the $286 million proposal.
Budget reductions were made in consultant dues, staffing contingencies, money for custodians and electricity funds following a consultation with an energy consultant last week, said Chief Fiscal and Operations Support Officer Clarence Zachery.
Money for grounds maintenance was also cut $45,000.
Concerns over Kim’s proposed maintenance budget were once again expressed. At a previous budget discussion, board chair Andy George pointed out the board got “virtually no increase” in their maintenance budget despite the burgeoning mold problems that emerged in public school buildings over the last several months due to deferred maintenance.
“I’ll ask one more time: Are we comfortable with the number in here to include all preventative maintenance not done previously in our schools?” Board member Jackie Pioli asked of the maintenance budget, which has gone up less than one percent from this year’s.
Kim’s original budget proposal shows $428,000 going toward building upkeep and repairs.
“The allocation of funds within our maintenance line is in the ballpark of what we should be allocated for maintenance,” Kim replied. “Whether it’s allocated to the right buckets — maintenance supplies, maintenance salaries — is a question.”
Kim added the budget is up 10 percent in maintenance supplies. Zachery said the number is trying to keep in line with predicted sustainable growth.
“I don’t feel comfortable with that,” Pioli said. “I do go to some of the Mold Task Force meetings. I go to Board of Reps and their education committee and I hear air filters, preventative maintenance. I don’t know how many schools need air filters and how many times they need to be changed ... I don’t want to end up repairing and then going back.”
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