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Petition Requests Town Vote on Selectmen's Budget

Residents will present 450-plus signatures at Tuesday night's public hearing.

The Brookfield Board of Finance (BOF) is holding a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the (BHS) auditorium to hear comments on the , a total of $56,646,000 — $19,696,000 for town operations and $36,950,000 for the schools — a 2.41 percent increase in spending over 2011-12.

The BOF proposal cut approximately $475,000 from the budget proposed by the Board of Selectmen (BOS), . Since that time, a group of Brookfield residents have been circulating a petition asking the BOF to put the BOS budget to voters, garnering the support of almost 460 residents as of Monday evening.

“We’re asking them to give us a chance to vote on the selectmen’s budget,” explained petition organizer Kathie Schilling, who spearheaded the effort with husband David Propper (who she credits with the idea).

[Editor's Note: .]

“We’re not trying to antagonize anyone here,” she added, “We just think it’s a good year for dealing” with certain issues, such as class sizes and in the schools and the part-time clerk for , as the recent revaluation will mean little to no tax impact on the majority of Brookfield residents.

Schilling, Propper and other community members have been circulating hard copies of the petition and directing voters to an online version, which has over 250 signatures as of Wednesday night, added to the 200-plus Schilling had on hand.

As they have been collected, the petitioners have been cross-checking the names with the voter registration roles and weeding out anonymous and duplicate signatures in order to get an accurate view of the level of support. According to Schilling’s calculations, 33 percent of signatories are registered Republicans, 31 percent are Democrats and 36 percent unaffiliated or registered with a minor party.

“It takes 400 signatures to force a referendum, to overturn a decision of the selectmen or to lower the budget at the Annual Town Meeting,” Schilling said, acknowledging that the petition does not hold any legal weight but will show support for the BOS budget at Tuesday’s meeting.

“The Board of Finance is going to listen to what the public has to say,” Finance Chairman Jerry Friedrich said, though, “If they’re just saying put money back, there should be a compelling reason.”

The BOF proposal as it stands has the support of most of the Finance Board members and is a “reasonable proposal,” according to Friedrich.

“The budgets are fair,” he said. “There’s enough money for the Board of Education to do what they want to do, everything they need to do.”

Since the last proposal was voted on, new information has also come to light in the form of $109,000 in insurance savings for the school district, bringing the reduction from the BOS budget to $131,000.

Friedrich also said he is watching movement in Hartford closely, as a bill going before the legislature may mean more state funding for magnet schools, taking that burden off of the public school systems. That could net the district an additional $40,000 or so.

“I think it’s a reasonable budget,” Friedrich reiterated, however he will wait to see what the public says at Tuesday’s hearing and, ultimately, how they vote in May.

Longtime Brookfield resident April 10, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Howard , what I am saying is I just can not afford more plain and simple, this is not a nicety but a reality, I would love a Mercedes but simply can not afford one. I can only hope that the town can sympathise , the positions you suggest such as police officer I can agree with as well as the others you suggest , but like I said we can cut consolidate elsewhere to accomodate these at zero increase , zero impact.
Steven DeVaux April 10, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Follow our town charter as independently elected boards. Don't pull a Congress and try and please everyone. And please, PLEASE fund the town's pension plan with the amount recommended by the town's paid professional actuaries. The Board of Selectmen FAILED to properly fund the pension. If that requires less spending elsewhere, so be it but the town's employees deserve a properly funded pension plan in accordance with non-political, independent numbers provided by the experts.
Steven DeVaux April 10, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Robin, If kids did what they are doing they would be considered bullies and subjected to the Board of Education's bully policy.
Brookfield Mom April 11, 2012 at 12:30 PM
LBR - Can you tell me what a curriculum leader does? I've heard many people make suggestions for eliminating positions (particularly in schools) without any actual knowledge of what the person does. I could make the argument that a curriculum leader is more necessary in kindergarten than in higher grades because kindergarten is where students learn the foundational skills needed to be successful later on.
Marissa May 02, 2012 at 08:03 PM
An elementary school curriculum leader does far more than people realize. This is not something that could be done by a teacher who is teaching a class of 20+ students (not if both jobs are to be done well). There simply isn't enough time in a day for a Kindergarten or 1st Grade teacher to do all that is required of them as well as being a curriculum leader. While it does vary from district to district (and I can't speak for the current job descriptions in Brookfield), some of the things I have seen CL do include: planning professional development, coaching and co-teaching with teachers to improve teaching, ensuring that teachers have the information and materials needed to teach lessons aligned with district and state standards, organize and monitor remediation services for students below grade level - and enrichment for those above grade level, providing intervention services for students in need of intense remediation, providing training and guidance in the use of paraprofessionals (for teachers and paras), working with teachers to revise curriculum based on district/state changes, supervise the administration of standardize testing (training proctors, planning accommodations, etc.), and much more. It is not uncommon for districts to have a Language Arts CL as well as one for Math/Science in each building. Brookfield may need to evaluate their use of reading/math specialists, consultants, and CLs so that these much needed positions are being utilized efficiently.

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