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Superintendent of Schools Speaks with Fairfield for Good Government

Dr. David Title met with the group on Jan. 10 and discussed district staffing, contract negotiations, enrollment projects, state mandates, and the new math curriculum.

[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 fggfairfield@gmail.com

 

Submitted by Kate Daniello of Fairfield for Good Government

Jim Eastwood January 17, 2013 at 12:56 PM
To All Stop pointing the finger at Labor !!! How about the costs and Increasing numbers of Management in the Board of Education?? Do you Dr . Title really need the "Perks" you get ?? And do I hear "An Addition needed to Fairfield Ludlow--AKA Rodger Ludlow" High school----You got to be kidding !!! Lets see 15 Million $$$$$$ for Riverfield 4.2 Million for Osborn Hill(Is that really needed???) 100,000$$$$ for addition busing from McKinlrey to Dwight for pre school Be responsible PLEASE !!!!!
Igor January 17, 2013 at 01:10 PM
I agree with you 100% Jim. As I stated previously in former posts. How many does it take to screw in a light bulb? Do you really need all those secretaries and assistants? Just recently they stopped giving the office staff the snow days off because the kids got them off.
Interested Party January 21, 2013 at 11:09 PM
Secretaries who are employed for 12 months do not get snow days off, regardless of whether school is closed.
Ajack January 22, 2013 at 06:17 PM
What everyone should be concerned with is the fact that Dr. Title's administrators, when given his directive of cutting the budget to the bone( his words at the meeting) that these people don't short change the kids ( the customer) with denying services or giving substandard services to the kids for the sake of maintaining their pay and benefits.To whom does a parent or child go to when they suspect they are being short changed? Fairfield Special Education has the highest number to litigation cases for ANY town in the state. Often times , it's been an attempt to deny services ( indirectly to keep cost cutting as a top priority?.). It scares me when a superintendent starts to worry as much about his bottom line than the kids. He stated that he's the C.E.O. of the education system in town. Salaries and benefits are far outstripping what is being spent on the kids. All for the kids? More like all for the administrators.
Sean O'Donnell January 22, 2013 at 07:42 PM
Public Sector Administration and Management Compensations, as well as overstaffing are too overbearing for the majority of taxpayers, which are lower middleclass. Its time we brought parity with Private Sector Administrative Productivity into the equation.
Ajack January 23, 2013 at 12:07 AM
The Special Education Department, it has been rumored, has been looking at cutting segments of our summer school programs. Are kids who need services being denied at an increasing level? Was this in response to Dr. Title's demands? Yet no one hears of administrators cutting their salaries and benefits. Are Special needs children being short changed? At the meeting there was a chart on the back table. Anyone who took the time to look at it, saw how much the administrative costs have risen in the past ten year, by five times, and how actual spending on students has relatively remained flat. Government Education has become too expensive. Lets just face it. It's the largest contractual employer in the U.S. today! $ and perks are spiraling out of control. Our Educational system is slowly becoming impractical. It has been for a while. When it fails...spend more money. If this was a business, it would fail. If parents were given 2/3 of the $ supposedly spent on their kid's education and allowed to shop for services, I bet we'd have better students at a lot less cost.
Lois Lehman February 27, 2013 at 01:40 AM
The Board of Education spends public money with abandon, but has no boss to provide financial oversight. It is not answerable to the First Selectman. It is (sort of) answerable to the voting majority, but a lot of damage can be done before the next election. Members of the Board of Education are not chosen for their background in financial management. Most of them have little knowledge of this area. The Superintendent of Schools has an enviable salary, but no track record in maximizing financial resources, as any private business CEO is required to do. What of the cost of employee health care and pensions in the education budget? How are these being pared down, to fit the times? Unless the voting public insists on financial accountability and true budgeting, we will continue to be the patsies of people with little regard for future impact, spending other people's money.
parentof3 March 21, 2013 at 04:46 PM
Layoffs are occurring all over the private sectors now, it is clearly time to do the same in the public job arena. Writing is on the wall. Bottom 10%? has got to go. Assessments based on performance and customer satisfaction ( that being the taxpayer) need to drive given we are the ultimate owners of the services. Streamline management and administrative positions, meaning a larger cut here on a percentage basis versus actual service providers like teachers. Upgrade/ replace employees for the next 30% with more reasonable contract terms and quality. good people are out there looking for jobs. if we are not getting our money's worth then replace public employees. Time to clean house. There is no room for coasting any longer. Delay any projects not of dire need to a substantial portion of the community until finances are under control. Whose job is it to make these decisions.? Taxpayers need to get on the same page if we want to make a difference. Find common ground, and push for those spending cuts asap!
parentof3 March 21, 2013 at 04:46 PM
Arguing over educational programs is a non starter and a waste of time. Focus on cuts in education admin and secretaries and delay renovation projects that are not life threatening... There will be support from parents and non- parents alike in these areas and there are millions of dollars in savings to be taken just here alone. Then look at the rest of the public arena and then we see how much we can really live without and still thrive. Taxpayers need to unite on common issues to make a difference.

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