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Norwalk Mayor Calls for School Budget Talks

Tempers have flared and a stalemate has developed in the battle over the 2011-12 Norwalk school budget . But there is a sign of hope: The leaders involved have been invited to a diplomatic meeting. On Friday, Mayor Richard Moccia called for "composed conversation" in an email to Superintendent Susan Marks, Board of Education Chairman Jack Chiaramonte, Norwalk Federation of Teachers Union President Bruce LeVine Mellion and Tony Ditrio, leader of the administrator's union and principal at Kendall Elementary School.

The battle over the more than $150 million budget proposal for the Norwalk schools has drawn complaints from parents about program cuts, calls for teachers to take a wage freeze and lack of agreement among city boards on the amount of spending.

"I am aware of and admire the level of commitment each of you is making to the effort to ensure this year's budget is directed in a manner that best ensures a continuation of our shared commitment to quality education for all Norwalk children," Moccia said. "That your point of view may occasionally be presented with the passion of your belief is not only understandable but respectable."

He then asked them to come together to work with him toward "a plan for the coming year that we can afford, that protects jobs, that ensures appropriate class size and support, and that provides for a level of harmony as we work together on our mutual mission."

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