Stratford community rallies together to fight school district budget cuts

Parents, students and teachers came out to express their frustrations for programs and educational services at risk of being cut.

Justin DeVellis and Robyn Karashik

Mar 12, 2024, 12:37 AM

Updated 39 days ago


Stratford residents held a rally ahead of a Town Council meeting on Monday night to protest proposed school budget cuts for the upcoming fiscal year.
News 12 Connecticut's Justin DeVellis spoke with parents, students and teachers who came out to express their frustrations for programs and educational services at risk of being cut.
“When my daughter started school we weren’t exactly sure and we have been nothing short of delighted with her education,” said Megan Booth, a Stratford parent. “I think they put every student at risk of not being able to compete with their peers, especially when we talk about post-secondary readiness.”
The budget originally proposed by the acting Stratford superintendent calls for a 6.69% budget increase, while the Board of Education proposed a 3.27% increase. That difference is the main issue residents are battling.
Students also had the opportunity to step up to the podium to have their voices heard.
“You may already know that the board of education has suggested eliminating library teachers, reading specialists as well as math coaches. However, it is a district goal to raise test scores. Eliminating these key educators will only have negative impacts on the school communities,” said one student.
Parents said librarians in the elementary and high schools could be cut, as well as reading and math tutors. An alternative program at Stratford High and assistant principal positions in the elementary schools are also at risk.
Mayor Laura Hoydick said the town is avoiding closing any school and is working toward not eliminating staff.
“At this point in time, I have provided more than the board of education requested with the intent of working with the school administration, the superintendent of schools – just like we have been – about how to best fill these gaps,” said Hoydick.
The president of the Stratford Education Association Mike Fiorello said the loss of federal funding from COVID-19 is driving most of these financial issues. He also said proposed cuts will set the town back and put students at a disadvantage.
“Generally the Board of [Education] does not preemptively make these cuts before sending the requests over to the town hall and that is what they did this time,” said Fiorello. “I want this to be a district we can be proud of and right now I don’t feel that.”
The BOE did not respond to News 12’s request for comment. No decision on the budget proposal was made on Monday night. The Town Council will set another date to vote on the budget. Once that’s done, then it will go back to the BOE.

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