Facebook Commenters: Increase Norwalk School Spending

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How much should Norwalk spend on its schools, such as Brookside, above? Facebook readers would like to see the city spend more.
How much should Norwalk spend on its schools, such as Brookside, above? Facebook readers would like to see the city spend more. Photo Credit: Norwalk Public Schools

NORWALK, Conn. – As city officials deliberate over how much Norwalk should spend on its schools next year, residents are weighing in with the opinion that they want to see more money go toward education.

The Board of Education is looking to spend about $164.9 million on schools for 2013-14, which represents a 3.4 percent increase over this year.

But on Facebook, residents say they want to see the city spend more. The Norwalk Daily Voice asked readers whether they believe the city is spending enough, too much or too little on its schools, and virtually all of the responders said they want to see Norwalk add dollars.

“More money would be better,” wrote Lisa Donohue-Olivieri. “My child's school is understaffed. Her teacher regularly uses her own money for supplies. We need more resources for children with learning disabilities as well.”

The proposed education budget for next year is geared toward trying to restore some of the positions and items lost over the past year when the district was forced to make cuts following the discovery of a $4 million shortfall in previous school spending plans.

Norwalk, like some of Connecticut’s other large cities, also grapples with educating a diverse mix of students from different ethnic, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, and relies on state funding, which is constantly in jeopardy of being reduced or eliminated.

“It is more about how they are spending it,” wrote Gill Ruehl. “The cuts they made last year were devastating... I understand that sometimes they have to be done, but what is the cost to our children?”

Barbara Sigrid Allen Meyer-Mitchell and Mark Jackson were succinct in their assessments, proclaiming “Too little” regarding how much the city was spending.

But Jill St. John agreed with Ruehl. “How about just spending what they get more wisely,” she wrote. “[We have] enough overpaid administrative people… when did THEY ever teach a kid to read?”

Do you have an opinion on how much Norwalk spends on its schools? Please leave your comment below.

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Comments (7)

Everybody wants the best school system for their children, and a really great system helps home values. The question should be how much more in taxes would you be willing to pay for a better school system ?
I think a lot of people in the administration might be surprized at how positive the answers would be.

We pay more in taxes every year, but it doesn't seem to matter, we still have to suffer service cuts because every year the Unions demand raises. Try to hold the line on spending and the Union pushes back with the standard drivel which is best summed up as "Pay me more money, or you don't care about your kids."

During last year's budget season if I recall correctly we had Union leadership suggesting that parents should have to pay for sports and band, so that teacher raises could be funded without cutting positions. I guess funding those raises was viewed as more important than turning out well-rounded students.

In response to Ms. St. John's comment in the article regarding the overpaid administrators teaching students to read, I would like to point out that two of those overpaid "administrators" are the reading specialist and the math/science specialist. They have been working on getting the entire District to use the same curriculum. I happen to know that the reading specialist has taught students to read, classrooms full of them in the past. Another one is the Special Education Coordinator. If a child needs special services, she's the one to talk to about it. And we have a Early Childhood Coordinator. That covers Preschool and School Readiness programs. Then there are two testing specialists who analyze the scores for all the students. They work closely with the Literacy Specialist and Math/Science specialist to identify problems and help correct them. Cut those positions and you'll be shifting the burden onto the classroom teachers.

Oh, yeah, and let's not forget the single employee who produces the payroll. I'm not sure if they replaced the Benefits coordinator yet, but anyone who had to change a retirement plan, insurance plan or adjust their deductions knows what a critical role that is.

Another group of "overpaid administrators" include those who oversee the buildings, those who manage the finances and still others who fill out the endless forms required by the State and Federal government to keep the whole show on the road. And the Information Technology Department that keeps the computers up and running. None of those have direct student impact, but they have a very strong impact on the classroom, like, oh, say, keeping the lights on, the toilets from overflowing or the building warm.

None of those above functions happen in a vacuum. The Norwalk Public School System is the largest employer in Norwalk, as far as I know. It's been interesting watching how people demand "administrative cuts" and then want more services for their children. Last time I checked more than 50%, and possibly 60% of Norwalk's total budget went to the District. And unless the numbers have changed significantly, Norwalk is one of the highest, if not the highest, paying Districts in the State.

Many of them are former teachers who chose to go into administration and many of them have taught children to read in the past. They are struggling to deliver the services that people have come to depend on. Cut the current administrative staff at your own peril.

Good points Paige. Nobody understands what administrators do, or what it's like to comply with the many demands of parents, the Teacher's Union, the state and federal governments, and so on. Having said that, I hope the recent moves toward testing and accountability will also include some level of accountability for administrators as well. Budgets are tight and we certainly can't afford do-nothing administrators, if there are any.

If this passed year doesn't speak to how much our kids are suffering I don't know what does. Number one in fights? Really? I see a definite difference in our daughters education - not just with the budget cuts but the loss of an incredible principal as well.

People need to take this up with Bob Duff & Chris Perone. We dont get our fair share of funding from Hartford, they take it from us but dont give it back.