On February 16, the Wilton Board of Education unanimously passed Superintendent Kevin Smith’s final budget proposal. The budget represents a 4.5% increase over this year’s spending and reflects both the current economic and inflationary environment and the necessary resources to sustain and advance a Wilton education.
On March 15 the Board of Finance began its budget and mill rate deliberations. During the discussion, several members of the Board of Finance expressed a need to make budget reductions. In advance of the Monday, March 27 Board of Finance Public Hearing on the Board of Education Budget, there are several things that I’d like to make clear.
First, is that the Wilton Public School system and programs are working and delivering on our mission, values, and community expectations. According to the Connecticut Next Generation Accountability Index, Wilton is the best-performing district in the State. We are preparing our students for success in college, careers, and life better than any other district. Across the district, we are seeing remarkable growth and achievement.
Second, is that the budget is a monetary expression of our mission, values, and expectations. Every line item of this budget reflects the considered judgment of our Superintendent and this board about how best to organize our program and expend resources in order to sustain, protect, and nourish our achievements and investments.
Third, each child who walks through our doors gets one chance at each grade. Excellence comes from a place of acknowledging that we can all always do better and be better. From the Superintendent to the custodian, all positions operate to run programs in service of each learner. Education is dynamic and the system cannot thrive on past achievements alone.
Lastly, over the last eight years (2015-2022), the average increase in our budgets is a lean 1.27% and the lowest of any surrounding town. The board is well aware that this year’s budget represents the largest year-over-year request in recent history. The board also recognizes and understands the current economic and inflationary environment. This budget already incorporates hard choices and is 1.5% lower than when first proposed in January. We adopted this budget and the choices that this budget represents with the understanding that anything less compromises the services and programs we currently provide and our community’s expectation of excellence.
It is critical that all members of our community answer the Board of Finance survey and come to the March 27 Public Hearing on the Board of Education Budget at 7 p.m. in the Middlebrook auditorium (131 School Rd.) and on Zoom.
Following the Public Hearing, the Board of Finance will continue their deliberations on April 3, 4, 10 and 11. These meetings will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Comstock Community Center (180 School Rd.) and on Zoom.
I encourage full community engagement at the meetings and by emailing the Board of Finance. Now is the time for our community to make clear to the Board of Finance what it values, supports, is willing to pay, and wants to vote on at the Annual Town Meeting.
Ruth DeLuca is the chair of the Wilton Board of Education.
Ruth did a great job at the budget meeting last night. I was happy to see so many people come out and engage.
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