[The following text was submitted by the group Fairfield for Good Government.]
Fairfield for Good Government (FGG) would like to thank Superintendent of Schools David Title and Board of Education Chairman Philip Dwyer for addressing more than 60 Fairfield residents at its open meeting at the Scandinavian Club on Jan. 10. It was the first opportunity for many attendees to hear Dr. Title speak about the town’s school system and budget, including comments on staffing, the three-year cycle of contract negotiations, enrollment projections, the new math curriculum, mandates imposed by the state, and performance measurement. It was a wide-ranging and very informative discussion.
Dr. Title described himself as a fiscal conservative who directs his department heads every year “to build their budgets starting at zero.” He described many ways in which he has been able to save money in Fairfield’s school system in recent years, three specific examples of which were changes in start times at the high schools, in purchasing guidelines and in the food service department. However, despite these and other savings, he noted that, due to continued enrollment increases and contractual increases in wages and benefits, the fiscal 2014 budget, to be approved by the BOE at its Jan. 29 meeting, would necessarily show an increase over the current year.
One citizen expressed the concern that “Fairfield has an affordability problem,” and suggested that “because our student population has not increased significantly, any increases in the budget (other than contracted costs) need to be justified.” Another citizen asked if Dr. Title could provide a breakdown of the budget by course and program so that taxpayers can make better informed decisions about which services we want and can afford.
The mission of FGG is simply to Keep Fairfield Affordable. Through meetings like this, FGG seeks to provide residents with a better understanding of how their tax dollars are being spent, and an opportunity to express their views to our elected officials and department heads. In February, FGG plans to release a number of specific recommendations with regard to how the town’s $149 million education budget and $123 million municipal budget can be reduced. In this and other ways, FGG looks forward to working with town leaders on the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance, Board of Education and RTM to Keep Fairfield Affordable.
Fairfield for Good Government welcomes your comments and suggestions, particularly any recommendations that you may have about other department heads, board or RTM members with whom you would like us to arrange future meetings. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Submitted by Kate Daniello of Fairfield for Good Government