Calling for school budget transparency

To the Editor:

There is insufficient transparency into the accounting and reporting information provided by the Fairfield School District to warrant cutting student services. Superintendent Dr. Title and Board members are not addressing the real issue at hand, which is central office and district overhead.

Based on the most recent accounting numbers publicly released by central office, teaching staff salary expense appears to be more than $1 million better than plan, as it was last year until fourth quarter “transfers.” How was this money spent last year, in which departments and on what specific tasks, and where is this money earmarked for this year? Dr. Title has not been forthcoming with answers, yet he recommends eliminating programs and services or requests students find a way to self-fund these programs and services.

Dr. Title has recommended eliminating the entire middle school enrichment program, or eliminating the pull-out portion of this program. This enrichment program serves approximately 500 middle school students. With such a large number of students utilizing this program, how does the District intend to serve the academic needs of these students in the classroom if the program is eliminated or reduced?

As it stands now, the middle school academic curriculum lacks enrichment course levels. The Unified Arts Curriculum does not address enrichment STEM programs (science, technology, engineering and math) — skills needed to prepare our students for the 21st Century.

A few years ago, the district compressed almost all students into two math levels, as well as eliminated Honors Algebra 1 in the high schools. Central office has ignored requests from teachers and parents to restore levels to better service all learners.

Four years ago, the district eliminated all levels in the English language arts middle school curriculum with the promise of evaluating this decision after aggregating and analyzing data. Yet, curriculum leaders have not provided an analysis to the community.

Two years ago, the district reduced world language instruction in sixth grade with the promise of readdressing implementation after reviewing data. Yet, central office has not provided metrics on this decision either.

Surrounding districts have multiple course levels and enrichment programs for their middle school students, as well as world language instruction in the earlier elementary grades. Superintendent Dr. Title, why doesn’t Fairfield?

Without offering multiple course levels or enrichment programs, how is our district setting its objectives to challenge our students to learn and develop to their fullest potential? It would be amazing to see what our students could accomplish, if only they were challenged. As our town is incredibly diverse, we must realize that one size does not fit all.

Dr. Title, where is the $1 million being transferred this year? Without full accounting disclosure, the public is unable to make an informed evaluation of our district’s efficiency and performance, and the board cannot make informed decisions on the education budget. Again, threatening the public with cuts to services and programs when you are $1 million ahead of budget, sounds like politics, not education. It is time to set priorities.


Dawn Llewellyn


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