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Trumbull Teachers Send Message: Fund Our Schools

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Trumbull Education Association (TEA) President John Mastrianni (far left) is joined by colleagues throughout his district concerned about the impact of proposed budget cuts. TEA members attended a Town Council Finance Subcommittee meeting to send a message to fund their schools.

Teachers turned out in force at a Town Council Finance Subcommittee hearing in Trumbull to discuss proposed cuts to the district’s education budget—cuts that threaten to eliminate almost 20 teaching positions. Superintendent Gary Cialfi and other administrators presented details on the staffing cuts and other reductions that were announced earlier that day.

“We are deeply troubled by the town’s decision to slash the Board of Education’s budget by $2.3 million,” said Trumbull Education Association (TEA) President John Mastrianni. “Seven nontenured teachers have already been notified that they will not be renewed for budget reasons, and the elimination of positions will cause tenured teachers throughout the district to be displaced. We are asking the committee and the Town Council to pledge to restore these critical funds and take any action possible to prevent these cuts before the budget is adopted.”

Cuts hurt kids

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Trumbull teacher John Congdon and CEA UniServ Rep Herman Whitter outside the Finance Subcommittee meeting.

TEA members packed the meeting room, which was standing room only, wearing stickers that read “Cuts Hurt Kids” and “Fund Our Schools.”

“My wife and I both teach and live in Trumbull and have three kids in the school system,” said Madison Middle School teacher John Congdon. “This budget cut directly impacts students as well as my colleagues. Four teachers at my school received nonrenewal notices today.”

Fellow Trumbull parent and Trumbull High School teacher Sara Scrofani said, “When we make cuts, it hurts all the children in a district that claims to value education, and that’s why I’m here. I’m hopeful the committee and town council will make the right choices and restore some of these much-needed funds to our education budget.”

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Wearing their message on their sleeves, Trumbull teachers Sara Scrofani and Nedda Carrano urge town officials to protect school funding.

“Being a presence here with my fellow TEA members is important,” said Ryan Elementary School curriculum specialist Lisa Zielinski. “We are out here advocating for our students.”

Jane Billington, who also teaches at Ryan, added, “Teaching is not a glamorous profession, but it’s rewarding. We are in our classrooms before the school day starts and after it ends, and we work hard in and outside of school to help our students grow. We enjoy seeing their excitement about learning, and we want to make sure we have the resources to continue helping them learn and grow.”

Middlebrook Elementary school teacher and building rep Nedda Carrano said she attends town meetings to stay as informed as possible. “We can’t underestimate the value of each teacher and his or her impact on our students. All positions positively enhance our school district.”

First Selectman Vicki Tesoro stood up before the subcommittee and pledged her support to restore funds that are not needed to offset cuts proposed by the General Assembly.  State lawmakers are considering reductions to town education funds and requiring towns to fund a portion of the state’s teacher pension obligations.

More ways to speak out

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Trumbull teacher Jane Billington hopes her district continues to provide the funding and resources students need to learn and grow.

A public hearing is scheduled for Saturday, April 27, at 10 a.m. at Trumbull Town Hall, where members of the public can speak out about the impact of the cuts. The Board of Education will also meet to discuss the cuts on April 30 at 7 p.m., and the Town Council’s Finance Subcommittee will reconvene on May 6 at 6 p.m. to issue its final recommendations on the budget and vote to send the budget to the Town Council on May 9. The full Town Council will meet on May 9 to adopt or reject the budget.

TEA and CEA UniServ Representatives Suzanne Haviland and Herman Whitter are encouraging school employees, parents, and all members of the school community to attend the upcoming meetings as well as call and email Town Council members and ask them to restore these funds. The public is also strongly encouraged to contact state lawmakers to demand that they oppose a teacher pension cost shift to municipalities and cuts to town education funds.

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