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TELL US: What Do You Think of the Proposed School Budget?

Here's your chance to sound off on the $105,246,451 school budget proposed for the 2013-14 school year.

Interim Superintendent of Manchester Public Schools Richard Kisiel's proposed school budget for the 2013-14 school year is a $4.599 million, or 4.57 percent, increase over the current year's budget. 

Under the proposal, which still needs to be approved by the Board of Education, teachers will receive a 1.5 percent wage increase, no teachers will be laid off and classroom sizes will remain the same, but 10 paraprofessional positions will be eliminated. Kisiel's proposal also includes a 2.25 percent increase in administrator salaries, a roughly $1 million increase in special education funding and the replacement of five vehicles within the district's maintenance fleet. 

But the proposal does not include any increases in funding for school and security upgrades, which Kisiel said he would leave up to a soon to be assembled community task force on school safety and security to recommend to the board of education. 

But what do you think of the $105,246,451 proposed budget? Is it too much? Not enough? Is the funding directed to the right places? What would you like to see changed or added to the plan? 

Please share your thoughts with your friends and neighbors in the comments section below!

JayinManchester January 20, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Why are the paraprofessional the first to be laid off? 19 last year Why would we ask for more money and layoff people who are so needed in the schools? There are so many special needs kids out there. Do we want to break the law with no child left behind. What I want to know about is this: when are the schools going to start in forcing the dress code? The high school doesn't in force it.. If they can't in force the dress code then how will they in force anything? Kids with their pants down, hats in a building, cell phones. Kids don't listen and talk right over the teachers. It's disgusting. Where are these kids manners? Make the parents responsible, bring them in to sit with their kids if the are a problem. Anyway back to the budget, keep the paraprofessionals, don't give the administration a raise and you'll be able to keep them. Don't the big wigs make enough? Paraprofessionals can't even live on what they make!
Dean January 20, 2013 at 05:07 PM
This budget is asking way to much and is very far-fetched. This year people saw the payroll tax holiday expire and the state run into a 1.5 billion dollar deficit even after Malloy's massive tax increase. Malloy can not raise taxes, because it is politically unpopular and it will make his last tax increase look like more of a flop so he is going to make municipal leaders be the tax bad guys by cutting municipal aid upwards to 10% while still keeping state mandates on the towns. Municipal leaders are going to keep taxes and spending to a minimum because this is an election year. Expect huge local government cuts and layoffs.
James Bond January 20, 2013 at 08:41 PM
There isn't a dress code at M.HS.Reason;to hard to enforce.Detentions lead to skips,which lead to Sat. detentions they skip,then in school suspenions(now your dealing with recorded issues) "THEY" don't want to deal with that because the next step is out of school suspenions,AND that becomes the real issue,perception.The lowest common denominator of society run the show.Also the blame always ends up at the teachers door step,because they are culturally bias and don't understand the needs of students.Good luck dressing like they do when they go for an interview. Thus, the schools don't do them any service.Lower end society doesn't get it,bad language and poor personal judgement is their credo. Paras can't live on what they make;THEY don't care.If grant money was available they'd care.
Jerry O'Connor January 20, 2013 at 09:45 PM
The dollars spent on "education" this year in Manchester will equal or exceed 85% of the residential taxes the Town collects. Decades of poor decision-making at the State legislature and local BOE levels have led us to this point. The consequences cannot be reversed overnight. There are actions that could be taken to mitigate current circumstances and improve the outlook for future years but, due to the influence and financial support of special interest groups, these actions will not be politically palatable for any Democrat politicians. Taxes in Manchester may rise by 7% or more this year, with a similar increase in 2014. When people complain about their tax burden in my presence I ask them to name any member of the Board of Education, or even their State Rep or Senator. Typically, they cannot -- even though they voted for them. In the rare instances they are able to throw out a correct name, (there's about a 50% chance they'll give an incorrect answer) I'll ask if they have ever told him or her about their concerns. Silence. Yeah, we're down to about one in a hundred now. So, if you're looking for someone to blame.... you can probably look in the mirror. Myself, I don't believe we're spending too much for education.... I just don't think we -- or our Town's children -- are getting enough for our money.
Frank January 21, 2013 at 12:57 AM
I find myself agreeing with Jerry on one thing, we haven't received enough for our money, especially under the previous district leadership although it seems like things are getting much better under the current leadership. I will say that if we actually wanted to solve the achievement gap we are looking at about 120 grand a kid a year instead of the current 20 grand a kid a year. Obviously we can't afford it with our current tax base so I mean I don't know, I think the budget proposal is good, I'd like to see us pay more and I would be willing to pay higher taxes. As for the families of students, it isn't really any of our business as a town to judge if their parents as teaching them to have their pants down or not. It is our job as a town to educate all the children that come to our schools and our job to arrest all the people in town who commit crimes. If we wanted to address what is perceived by many as the shortcomings of students families then we should address that by using classist planning and zoning practices such as those used by our neighboring rich towns. If we as a community are unwilling to do this for moral (I hope) and/or financial (more likely) reasons then it becomes our moral and financial responsibility to educate all of the students in our community, those with their pants up and those with their pants hanging low, those who show interest in education and those who don't.
James Bond January 21, 2013 at 02:11 PM
The achievement gap at M.H.S. wanders the hallways when they should be in class, doesn't do a lick of homework,skips class and hangs out in the lunch for four waves,respects no one except their friends who respect no one,and more $$$$ will solved it? The one thing that will solve it, the door.Remove those that refuse to cooperate.Scores will go up,the climate will be better and so would morale. Administrators fear State reprisals, so doing the right thing for the good of all will not happen.Keep the preception looking good then you the administrator look good,and you keep your job or get a better one.Smoke and mirrors.The paper said the other day how arrests were down by some huge %aged.Think?.....Was some grand policy put in place that every school in the counrty is here studying so they too can have fewer arrests? NO,all that was done was lower the standards,and wah-lah fewer arrests.Oh, and by the way this works with grades and test scores too.Lower the bar and more can jump over giving the illusion that your solving the problem.
Frank January 21, 2013 at 02:45 PM
You speak of MAPS?, yeah that seems like it is a great trick, the police dont arrest kids for things they used to arrest about and then you claim that the kids are so much better because there are no arrests. The money could be spent like they do at Harlem Children's Zone, As far as I have heard that is the only place that has solved the achievement gap and it cost 125k a kid a year. I don't know how releasing disengaged students into the wild would improve society as a whole. Plus it is illegal. I get the temptation of imagining we could just send all the challenging kids away someplace but that is really expensive as well. Our neighboring rich towns have spent a lot of time and money over the past 20 years keeping challenging students out of their towns and schools. Manchester did not spend the time or money to keep challenging students out of our town so we must take responsibility for all of the students we have (yes even the ones at all 4 lunches) because it is the only legal, moral, and responsible thing to do. If we "remove those that refuse to cooperate" then that means building a new giant alternative school for those students and that will also cost a boat load of money. There is no cost neutral, moral, and responsible solution to the achievement gap or generational poverty. Anyone who says that there is (Michelle Rhee types, the 90/90/90 people) are eventually uncovered as frauds. We can't get anything for free...because the Cheney's left :(
James Bond January 22, 2013 at 12:35 AM
Prediction;That giant alternative school will be the M.H.S. freshman wing someday.
Guy Fawkes January 22, 2013 at 03:30 PM
I do not support it. The biggest issue I have is with the administration raises. I don't see why we should be giving the people who make the most the biggest raises, particularly in such a poor economy, while their performance has been dismal at best. At least have the decency to take the same percentage as the teachers, overall your raise will still be more.
tina bourke January 22, 2013 at 06:51 PM
I actually agree with Jerry too. I can only speak from my experience and that is I had no understanding as a younger adult that we could speak to our legislators about taxes or anything else never mind know who or how to contact them. And I think if one does do that, it should be personal. I didn't quite get the rest of it though, sorry. As for the special interests, what and where are they? The democrats are only one facet of all of it? If you say the BOE made bad decisions regarding the budget why would the BOD approve the budget then, year after year? I'm not trying to blame anyone but just wondering why then it wouldn't be prudent for the state to step in?
tina bourke January 22, 2013 at 07:34 PM
Frank, your thinking sort of makes sense to me also; the statistic may change, not intentionally though, due to consequences tied to it i.e., job, status, funding, instead of the real belief in the sincere benefit of it? That in its core is so very interesting to me. I like the idea of a mentoring model though and hopefully more extensive training in de-escalating is excellent. It brings me back to Mr. Frost who had that approach when I was growing up. Being arrested is so sensationalized and may contribute to the negative reinforcement and expectation of that individual to others and oneself? I would of been considered in that statistic i.e., poverty & low grades at M.H.S. I would have to say it was the creative people like Mr. Frost and my high school literature teacher Mrs. Norko. Keep the paraprofessionals, get more counselors too and more focus on programs such as mentoring in my opinion. In the history from what I read people were not working together so you would have to wonder how did that impact the students? And how did the perpetuation of the conflicts, empower the less empowered? Money, students and/or education services should not only be the focus but how the dynamics go with regard to the statitics? I don't really mind spending the money for the schools, I just don't want to throw money without any buy in for creativity with that money and open to new ideas.
Frank January 23, 2013 at 12:35 AM
Tina, I like you, would much rather see kids who are facing challenges spend time with caring adults who are focused on helping them use all their abilities to overcome their challenges as opposed to being thrown in the clink. I think when the town sells the MAPS as proof that kids are no longer facing challenges(which many people seem to think they are doing) then that is where we get into trouble. Social Services, mentoring etc are all cheaper in the long run than putting kids in jail but the problem is funding. Jail costs the Manchester town budget nothing where as more services for our kids do even if in the long run it saves the state and country a ton of money and trouble and is better for our people.
tina bourke January 23, 2013 at 01:21 AM
Oh, got it. I like the shift in attitude and concept behind the model. I'm not sure why though you think jails are free. You have to paid officer working when making arrests, the time processing the arrest, the cost of the building, maintenance, monitoring of the jail etc.? May be hard to comprehend depending on your upbringing but some kids may not have anyone to talk to, trust or turn to. Overselling the success? I'm not sure, sorry. I think the real pearl is figuring out exactly why it is working. Include the kids in the process of figuring it out too?... Only my opinion but this would be an example of creative money spent, but yea your right Frank, certainly not the entire solution for sure.
Frank January 23, 2013 at 11:04 AM
No No, I think prison is very very expensive but the state pays for prisons and if a kid or adult is in prison the town of manchester no longer has to pay for their schooling or monitoring their behavior or anything, so I am saying local officials and other folks like that they don't have to pay the bills for the people who are out of town in state care in the prison system. I think that is crazy to think because we all pay state taxes as well but I think people think that.
Jon Crickmore January 23, 2013 at 11:05 AM
James i never thought the day would come when i would agree with you lol. You are right about the smoke and mirrors. If you arrest fewer people you can claim a victory. It's all BS. Trust me when i tell you there is a unwritten policy on arresting less people as a way to claim victory. 3 weeks ago i was asked to go to someones house that was having trouble with a young man who has struggled with addiction. I suggested that she call the police. When the police arrived 5 of them. There was drug paraphernalia, prescription pills that didn't belong to this person and the police could of cared less. When asked if they would arresting this young man the answer was NO. This single mother was in disbelief. The ones she thought could help her just turned their heads. He was taken to the hospital given a narcotic prescription and released back to the streets within an hour. 5 police officers and not one of them thought this person should be arrested. To much paperwork ? crowded courts? lazy? it baffles me. Sorry to get off track this is just an example of the smoke and mirrors. As far as the paras are concerned i believe 5 of them are in special education. The last place we should be removing these people from is special education. The special education kids i speak of are the severely handicapped not just the ones who are disruptive in class. Manchester wants you to think they have a great special ed system in place.
Jon Crickmore January 23, 2013 at 11:13 AM
-Continued- I wonder why so many employees have their children in out of district placement if the special education was so great. You could try asking the board members. Good luck though. When my kids were in Manchester schools i emailed every BOE member twice and never received a response from any of them. After much prodding i did get a response from Mr Pattacini who informed me he was speaking on be half of all members and he was sorry but they could not help. They couldn't help with a school issue? more like they didn't want to help.
tina bourke January 23, 2013 at 02:52 PM
^I was coming of age in the late 60's early 70's and drugs were rampant at school. No health insurance, no help. Sadly, I knew schoolmates who died of overdoses and suicide from growing up in that era. I really think you just contributed more then you know with your posts here on trying to figure out recognizing success . On this one both your thinking is profound and so very relevant. It is not so much fault of the officers or school in my opinion only, but rather how all this discussion is helpful to know how one looks at the goal or statistic. Remember for them it is a job. For example if is proposed as a job; we need to decrease the incarceration rates and that simply becomes the focus, rather then we may actually be helpful in this kids life as an authority figure and at such a crucial stage of their life. At that point one decides it is not about one's job or a statistic but rather real altruism. This type of altruism may not only result in decrease of incarceration but may even save a lifetime of suffering for the individual and generational ongoing suffering? I don't think you can measure altruism however. Excellent points from all of you on this thread!!! Sorry if I strayed from the budget....
tina bourke February 04, 2013 at 09:49 PM
Since this story and proposal the BOE has approved the budget. Although not the BOD yet but I don't understand was there an additional 1 million and I really didn't get the 85,000 for a computer tech. Anybody here understand it???

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