Despite hundreds of emails, letters, heartfelt comments during virtual meetings, car caravans, and other activities protesting proposed school budget cuts, the Stamford Board of Finance last night voted unanimously to cut the education budget by more than $15 million.
“It’s unbelievable that our voices were not heard throughout this process,” said Stamford Education Association President Diane Phanos. “Teachers rose to the COVID-19 challenges, as they always do, to take care of their students and keep them engaged and learning. The consequences of the crisis cannot be budget cuts that limit teachers’ ability to help their students or cuts to resources students need.”
Prior to the vote, Board of Finance members commented about the process. Saying that the board has been transparent, member Mary Lou Rinaldi remarked, “This should be no surprise to anyone.” Read more
Hundreds of Stamford students, teachers, parents, and other community members showed their opposition to plans to cut the school budget by more than $15 million during a car caravan rally yesterday afternoon and at a virtual Board of Finance meeting last night.
“The community’s show of support is amazing,” said Stamford Education Association President Diane Phanos. “Thousands of residents have been actively involved in speaking out at four virtual town budget meetings, and hundreds attended today’s car caravan, urging city officials not to cut the education budget.”
Increased class sizes and the reduction or elimination of positions—including reading teachers, media specialists, technology teachers, social workers, school counselors, EL specialists, and art, physical education, and music teachers, as well as security personnel and paraprofessionals—are just some of the changes in store if Stamford Pubic Schools Superintendent Tamu Lucero’s budget-cutting plan is adopted. That plan has been proposed unless teachers accept $15 million in concessions, including a two-year salary freeze and $4 million in unspecified additional cuts or a 10% increase in the teacher health care premium cost share.
“As we try to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, our students will need more resources. These proposed cuts will jeopardize their education, their emotional well-being, and their future. We urge our elected leaders to listen to the public and do what’s right for Stamford,” said Phanos. Read more
Increased class sizes, the reduction or elimination of positions, including reading teachers, media specialists, technology teachers, social workers, school counselors, EL specialists, and art, physical education, and music teachers as well as security personnel and paraprofessionals are just some of the cuts Stamford Pubic Schools Superintendent Tamu Lucero outlined last night during a virtual Board of Finance (BOF) special budget meeting. Lucero threatened the cuts if teachers refuse to accept $15 million in concessions, including a two-year salary freeze and $4 million in unspecified additional cuts or a 10% increase in the teacher health care premium cost share.
“Penalizing teachers by requiring concessions and eliminating essential positions—including social workers—when we need them more than ever is penny-wise and pound foolish,” said Stamford Education Association President Diane Phanos. “Making drastic cuts is not the right course for our residents or our community during these unprecedented times. When we return to school, our students will need more resources, not fewer, and we have to be prepared to provide remediation and handle students’ emotional trauma caused by the pandemic.”
The SEA successfully organized members to participate in last night’s BOF virtual meeting, with hundreds of teachers among the 800 participants. Despite the record numbers, however, the board allowed only eight participants to speak, cutting off public comment after just 40 minutes. All eight speakers were Stamford teachers who spoke out against the budget cuts, while dozens of others submitted written comments echoing concerns that the cuts would be devastating to students now and in the future, compounded by the trauma and chaos caused by the coronavirus. Read more
The Stamford Board of Finance met last night to discuss cutting the education budget.
Teachers are working tirelessly to provide distance learning during an unprecedented pandemic and are keeping students engaged and learning while providing a slice of normalcy and stability for them and their families. When schools reopen, students will need additional supports to catch up and deal with the trauma caused by the pandemic. Now is not the time to cut the Stamford education budget and eliminate teachers and resources students need.
That was the message teachers delivered in the first half-hour of last night’s Stamford Board of Finance meeting. Despite a $14 million budget surplus, Stamford officials are planning to cut the education budget and are asking teachers for concessions and pay freezes or they will eliminate positions and resources and increase class sizes.
The Stamford Education Association (SEA) organized teachers to join the virtual meeting to voice their opposition to plans to cut the education budget and explain why any cuts at this time would be catastrophic for students, teachers, and the district.
SEA President Diane Phanos said that taking a pay freeze will amount to a pay cut for teachers, because health insurance costs will continue to rise while teacher salaries remain stagnant. Read more
Teachers are often stretched thin between planning, teaching, grading, and assisting with extracurriculars. That’s certainly the case for Stamford teacher Kate Tobin, who teaches a full load of English classes, has co-organized lip-dub music videos to enhance school spirit at Westhill High, and coordinates the Westhill Alumni Network. Despite her many commitments, Tobin makes it a priority to help her colleagues by serving as a building rep, Stamford Education Association secretary, SEA newsletter editor, and as a member of the Negotiations and Grievance Committees.
“Having a teachers union is really important,” she says. “If we didn’t have our union, teachers would be a lot more abused and new expectations and responsibilities would be foisted on us without our input or any additional compensation.”
Tobin adds, “I don’t find the time, I make the time.” Read more