Things have gone from bad to worse when it comes to the district’s finances – though, considering the school board’s behavior, you’d never know it.
Given the fiscal situation, you’d think Bridgeport Board of Education members would come to committee meetings to learn and gather information, as they have done in the past. That certainly wasn’t the case at last night’s Financial Administration Committee meeting, where it was revealed that the district is facing a $4 million shortfall – a million more than previously projected.
In fact, only three of the six BOE members on the committee bothered to show up, and the meeting was delayed by fifteen minutes because they didn’t have enough members in attendance to start.
According to Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz, much of that additional $1 million is due to an increasing number of out-placements for special education students. In October alone, there were 18 students out-placed, at an average of $70,000 per pupil in tuition.
“I’m incredibly worried about the amount of out-of-district placements, “said Rabinowitz, who admitted that part of the problem is that the district lacks in-house programs.
According to District CFO Marlene Siegel, the BOE needs to find $4.5 million in reductions to keep the district solvent.
At their last full meeting, the BOE pushed forward a $3.5 million budget reduction plan that includes hiring freezes, using long term substitutes instead of contracted teachers, a reduction of assistant principals at Bassick High School and cutbacks to discretionary spending.
Unless the city decides to bail out the BOE by forgiving $2.5 million in billable in-kind services, additional severe cuts will most likely be necessary.
So, what is the BOE’s long term plan? How will they fix the district’s finances before they spiral out of control?
Apparently, whatever the plan is, it doesn’t involve showing up to meetings.
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