Special Bridgeport BOE meeting on budget

Bridgeport – There will be a special Board of Education meeting at 4 pm today democratic caucus room of city hall on the budget – the 2012-13 budget according to central office. No other information has been provided.
School Board Chairwoman Jaqueline Kelleher said she has been told Mayor Bill Finch wants to take back at least $1 million of the $4.4 million the city approved for the district for 2012-13. That amount was what the state required of the district under the current minimum budget requirement and also was part of the deal that led to the state giving the district a forgivable loan to seal its 2011-12 budget. State officials said Monday it did not appear the city could renege on its budget.
Kelleher called the request unacceptable. The district needs every penny, she said.
The last time Finch tried to reduce the city’s contribution to the school system, the request had to be approved by the schhol board. The board, then led by Max Medina, said no, but did leave some funds unspent when the fiscal year ended. Unspent funds revert to the city.
The mayor’s office, meanwhile, deny any education cut is in the works. After multiple requests for comment the following statement was released:

From Tom Sherwood re:BOE budget

“This proposed action tonight corrects the way in which money was directed to the City and the Board of Education from the State Department of Education. In the current fiscal year, the state Department of Education transferred $4,404,227 directly to the Board of Education as part of the ECS Alliance District grant (as opposed to being directed through the city’s general fund to be passed on to the Board of Education). This was originally listed on the State’s website and expected to be received by the City’s general fund as ECS Education Cost Sharing Aid. The money did not, however, come to the city’s general fund, as originally anticipated, because of a Department of Education policy change. As the Mayor had promised, we are absolutely continuing the $5 million in support to the Board of Education in the current fiscal year.”

Elaine Ficarra, the mayor’s spokeswoman said the city is not cutting its $5 million commitment to the district and that the BOE budget bottom line will remain as is.

Linda Lambeck