Bridgeport school budget forums set
BRIDGEPORT — Four forums are scheduled over the next two weeks to suggest what might happen if the city school district doesn’t get a $16 million funding boost for the 2019-20 fiscal years.
The forums start Tuesday and replace Community Forums that had been planned in all 10 City Council Districts. A majority of the school, put a stop to those session, after only four were held,, deeming them “too political” and inconsistent in their message. Some city officials apparently complained they were being blamed for school budgets that have forced millions of dollars worth of program cuts.
New sessions will be hosted by community groups, not the school board.
The first, entitled “Where’s Your Money Going?” is sponsored by the Greater Bridgeport NAACP Education Committee and will be held at 6 p.m., March 19, in the Burroughs Public Library, 925 Broad Street
At 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 20, also at the public library, We The Village will present a “Celebration of Student & Community Engagement.”
A third session on the budget will be hosted by Make the Road CT at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 27 at their headquarters, 850 State Street.
Finally, Bridgeport Caribe Youth Leaders will present a forum at 10 a.m., Saturday, April 6 at the University of Bridgeport, 126 Park Avenue.
The school board says it needs $16 million more than its current $248 million operating budget to run existing programs. More if it were to bring back kindergarten aides that were cut two years ago.
District officials say they have made more than $38 million in personnel and programming cuts over the past three years to absorb contractual increases in salaries and the rising costs of transportation, health care and special education.
One-third of the district budget is spent on special education.
Three quarters of the district’s operating fund comes from the state. The city supplies the rest. As of now, the state is expected to give the district a $2.5 million boost.
District officials are creating a budget gap plan should they not get the full $16 million. The list include things rejected from past years including shortening the school year by two days — the unions would have to agree — lengthening walking distances for middle school students and consolidating the administration at the Fairchild Wheeler campus.