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Board of Ed Drops Mandarin, Police to Delay SRO Hires

Board of Ed and police adjust to final budget revisions before Tuesday's Annual Town Meeting.

Brookfield registered voters and property owners are called to the Annual Town Meeting Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. in the Brookfield High School (BHS) auditorium to set the date and question(s) for the budget referendum.

The Board of Finance (BOF) , including $120,000 from education spending and  $60,000 from police department salaries. The proposal works out to a 3.93 percent spending increase over 2012-13 and a tentative 3.5 percent increase to the mill rate.

The police department will be able to adjust to the cuts by postponing the hiring and training of the two School Resource Officers (SROs) until closer to the school year or by putting off back-filling the positions within the department, according to Maj. Jay Purcell, though the officers might not be a presence in the schools from the first day in September.

Purcell said Monday that the department has to wait to see about retirements and other areas before being able to finalize a plan.

The Board of Education (BOE) deliberated on how to adjust for the cuts over two meetings since the BOF met, ultimately deciding to forego instituting Mandarin in the World Language program this year.

The school administration was able to adjust to some of the decrease with $13,000 in savings from a new fuel oil contract and $35,000 in retirements, however that still left a sizeable amount with few areas left to cut.

“Mandarin was really the number,” BOE member Scott McCarthy said, stating that the board looked at other possibilities, such as pension contribution, but felt that “being fiscally responsibly is certainly more important.”

McCarthy said the board is focused on Mandarin to replace Italian as the third World Language in the program, however without sufficient funding and the Language Lab, removed from the capital budget, it will have to wait at least one more year.

“It’s something we’ll have to prioritize in the future,” he said, adding that “Mandarin is certainly the right language.”

Residents will have the opportunity to ask questions about the proposed budget, set the date for referendum, split the municipal and education budgets into two questions and reduce single line items by vote at Tuesday’s meeting.

Concerned Citizen May 07, 2013 at 11:05 AM
Shame on the BOF and the process the Republicans on that board used to decrease the budget so arbitrarily!
Loving Mom May 07, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Agree - shame on the Davidson, the selectman and the BOF for even considering cutting the police presence in our schools. Sandy Hook is such a reality to us here because of the close proximity and we all know someone involved in one way or another. Can we really not give our teachers and students peace of mind during the school day? Imagine how frightening it is for them, especially if there's even a soft lockdown. Our students know they are not well protected, and so does an unstable person who wants to cause them harm. Further, teachers carry the burden of knowing they might have to put their lives on the line at any given moment, as the hero educators did at Sandy Hook. Can we really not give them a little piece of mind? I will NOT vote for Davidson again, or anyone who supports this budget.
Jeff Albarn May 07, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Deplorable that the Superintendent makes $208,000 in the 2012/2013 budget, and SRO's get removed from the budget offering. Here is a link to his contract: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/527289-brookfield.html
Jillian Krueger May 07, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Thank you for the link Jeff. I wish I could get a job with that amount of pay, vacation and days off, seems to me that no one is looking in the right places for "cuts".
H. Ferguson May 07, 2013 at 04:08 PM
If the SRO's are not allowed to have guns, they are soft targets like everyone else, so what's the value added here?
Lucia May 07, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Here is a link for school superintendent salaries according to enrolled students. It will really make you wonder WHY! http://nhregister.com/news/superintendents/
New Brookfield Resident May 07, 2013 at 04:14 PM
As a Brookfield resident who just moved here a little over a year ago and a mother of young children who will be going through the Brookfield schools, I am extremely disappointed to see how the BOF has gone about making these cuts and what a shame that the majority of the cuts are coming out of the education budget. As new residents to the town, we are hoping these cuts to education stop and that programs such as Mandarin are added in the very near future. And delaying the hiring and training of SROs????? So disappointing. We hope this isn't the trend for the future or we might need to rethink where we decided to raise and educate our children.
Jeff Albarn May 07, 2013 at 04:22 PM
I am sure this has been debated in other article comment sections; but I believe the SRO's would carry weapons, as they are police officers, with additional training.
Rob Gianazza May 07, 2013 at 05:12 PM
I've read these comments and would like to offer some clarifications. The SRO's come out of the police budget, not the school budget. The BOF didn't reduce the school budget, they cut the increase to the school budget. The BOE had many areas to adjust the budget, they choose to let Mandarin go. Don't be fooled by excuses, Brookfield offers an excellent educational opportunity to our students.
Stanley Parker May 07, 2013 at 06:57 PM
As always the BOE cuts the emotional issues. One administrator less will more that make up for the $120,000 cut to the huge increase they wanted. Again, emotion rules the day.
Art Kerley May 07, 2013 at 07:33 PM
Whatever happened to the Distance Learning program? Is it still operation? If not, why not? When I was on the BOE back in the early-to-mid '90s, we championed distance learning as a means of expanding and enriching our curriculum, without dramatically increasing costs. The equipment was provided by Charter Communications as a community service at no cost to the district. Granted, there was a teacher assigned to the program, but much of the set up and tech support services were performed by students who were gaining valuable experience and marketable skills for the digital age. Could not Mandarin, CAD and other courses be offered via Distance Learning technology, which is particularly cost-effective in offering new, advanced level or limited appeal subjects to our students by pooling resources with other districts? I would greatly appreciate a response from a BOE member or someone from the administration. Thank you in advance.
Steven DeVaux May 08, 2013 at 12:56 AM
Newtown voted their own budget down with SRO's.
Steven DeVaux May 08, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Newtown dumped theirs and is getting a less expensive one - with less mileage.
Steven DeVaux May 08, 2013 at 12:59 AM
Whatever you do, don't drink the water without testing it first!!! Mandarin is available to anyone interested with Rosetta Stone. The State Department in Washington DC uses it because the cost of teachers to teach it is prohibitive.
Steven DeVaux May 08, 2013 at 01:03 AM
Art, Pennsylvania has Cyber high schools where students take the courses over the internet just like Phoenix University offers and their student success rate is astoundingly good as the students enjoy it. The Khan Academy also offers numerous collaborative courses. The days of "not invented here" are long gone due to cost prohibitions. Distance learning as now simply moved to another platform but the powerful teachers lobby in Brookfield prevents students from engaging in the pleura of venues for learning everything because they meaure "seat time" and not "think time".
Steven DeVaux May 08, 2013 at 01:04 AM
The didn't decrease the budget. They decreased the Super Sized budget increase. In doing so they may have knocked off the cost of one referendum....something Newtown didn't do.
Ray DiStephan May 08, 2013 at 11:09 AM
Hello Art, Thanks for the thoughtful comments and questions. The Distance Learning program lost momentum because schools could not agree on a compatible daily schedule and yearly calendar.One year one school pulled out and the next year another school pulled out until it just became no longer viable. We had a full class of students as we provided the teacher, but other districts had much fewer students. It became very difficult to provide student support outside of the classroom. I am doubtful that any schools use this format any longer as online/virtual high schools have replaced this older format. I hope that helps.
BuckWheat May 08, 2013 at 05:49 PM
Gotta love the internet. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/527289-brookfield.html

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