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Budget Weary Norwalk Mom Will Fight Again

Claudette Quadrini is a veteran of the school budget wars. Now the Norwalk mother of three is preparing for another battle. Last week, she learned of budget cuts proposed for Norwalk High School.  Quadrini was especially concerned that $20,000 from the marching band budget was on the chopping block. Within a day, Quadrini, a band mom, shot off emails to the superintendent and Board of Education members to save this funding and encouraged all her friends to do the same.  “It’s the same thing every year,” says Quadrini. “You have to fight for the programs.”

Although Superintendent Susan Marks has not formally presented the draft budget to the BOE, news reports of some cuts have been made public. This year, the district needs to cut $4 million in personnel and programs. The entire budget and full scope of cuts are slated to be made known this week.

Quadrini considers herself a member of a core group of parents who show up to meetings and advocate for programs. Teachers and staff have the unions to protect them, she says.  “But who protects the kids? Programs need to protected by the parents.”

Two years ago, Quadrini fought to keep the Norwalk High swimming pool open. At the time, her son was a junior and a member of the swim team. This year, she sees that the swim team may be cut.  “Swim team was important for my son.  Not everyone can afford private swim teams,” she says. Quadrini’s oldest son is now a freshman at the University of Connecticut, her middle daughter is a high school junior and band member, and her youngest is a fifth-grader.

Quadrini explains that the total budget for the band is $150,000, much of which is raised by the parents.  “The band travels all over the country and represents Norwalk.  They are hardworking kids and win championships.  The kids are extremely proud of where they’re from,” she says. “This money, the $20,000, is the only money that the city of Norwalk gives them. And now they are planning to cut it?”

Over the years, Quadrini has learned to pick and choose her battles.  “I remember missing dinner with my family to go to board meetings.  Now I only go if it directly affects my family,” she says.  “As long as my kids are in the schools, I will fight for the programs I believe in. You have to take care of your own.”

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