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Shelton BOE set to drop pay for play

August 9, 2018

SHELTON — If only the city school district can nail down a signed school bus contract that frees up $451,000 in its 2018-19 school budget, a plan to charge students to play sports and other extra-curricular activities will be rescinded.

The school board, meeting in special session on Wednesday, voted 6-1 to authorized the contingent change.

Schools Superintendent Chris Clouet told the board the district is in the final stages of negotiating with the city over a school bus contract.

“There are still some small unresolved issues,” Clouet said. “We were hoping to have a signed contract available today.”

He called it a very likely scenario and not wishful thinking on his part.

Without a signed contract and or assurance of the amount that will be saved, Board member David Gioello voted no.

“We shouldn’t be voting until we have firm hard numbers,” Gioello said.

Board Chairman Mark Holden pushed for the contingent approval so that parents won’t have to start paying for fall sports programs.

“(This) will let parents know we are listening and it may put pressure on people negotiating the bus contract we have a good place to use that money that they like,” Holden said.

The district entered a 3-year deal with Durham Bus Company over the objections of the city which wanted to take over the service using a city-owned fleet of propane-fueled buses.

The city refused to let Durham use the buses and took the district to court. Durham, meanwhile, upped its price with the district by $800,000.

Court-mediated talks led to a deal that reduced the Durham contract to one year using city buses at a price to be negotiated. In 2019-20 the city will take over the service.

Clouet said the negotiations has led to Durham shaving a $451,000 off the $800,000 increase. The balance, apparently was eaten up by Durham supplying its buses for summer school transportation.

In June, the board cut $2.4 million from its 2018-19 budget plan to bring it in line with the $72.7 million budget it received from the city. One of the last cuts was $257,000 used to provide free sports and extra-curricular activities.

The board will decide at a later date, perhaps at a finance committee meeting next week, how to apply the remaining $193,713.

The board also voted to use an unanticipated Magnet School Transportation Grant from the state to partially pay for transportation for students in the district’s Talented and Gifted program. The transportation was free last year. This year, parents will pay $800 or half of what the board approved in June.

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