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Shelton schools could see additional budget cuts. Parents, teachers cite 'enormous stressors'

Eddy Martinez
/
Connecticut Public
Audience members at a Shelton Board of Aldermen meeting hold signs criticizing recent school district cuts. Eight positions were recently eliminated and the city could cut down on the budget if it passes later this month.

After issuing eight layoff notices during the school year, Shelton’s Board of Education is proposing additional budget cuts. Now, parents are sounding the alarm.

Andrea Adimando, a psychiatric nurse practitioner who has children attending Shelton Public Schools, said the district’s recent layoffs of teachers will have serious consequences for the well-being of those in the profession.

“I have seen countless educators in my practice, who are on the verge of suicide, due to the enormous stressors of their jobs,” Adimando said.

Shelton parent Andrea Adimando speaks at a Board of Aldermen meeting criticizing recent staffing cuts at the city school district.
Eddy Martinez
/
Connecticut Public
Shelton parent Andrea Adimando speaks at a Board of Aldermen meeting criticizing recent staffing cuts at the city school district.

Adimando, along with other parents, teachers and advocates, criticized previous staffing cuts and a potential budget cut for the school district at a Board of Alderman meeting on Tuesday. Any potential cuts aren’t a surprise, she said, as the district has cut positions over the last few years, with teacher advocates and city officials at odds over who’s ultimately responsible for the city’s educational budget woes.

Shelton’s Board of Education says the increase of special needs students and health insurance costs are partly responsible, as federal COVID-19 relief funds dry up and other municipalities across the state are beginning to grapple with cuts of their own.

Shelton Education Association President Joann Allen said the district recently laid off several positions, but she’s trying to negotiate their jobs back. The cuts, she said, have been ongoing, the result of years of budget challenges.

“We have teachers that are being split between schools for the special areas, and there's just nothing left to cut,” Allen said.

Allen and other union representatives were at the meeting as parents and teachers lined up to criticize a proposed $78 million budget, leaner than the more than $82 million dollar budget proposed by the district earlier this year.

Other advocates, such as former Democratic BOE member Diana Meyer, who did not run for reelection in 2023, said the problems are rooted partly in the city not budgeting to keep pace with teacher salary increases, health care costs, and the end of additional COVID relief funds.

There’s a lack of accountability, according to her.

Eddy Martinez
/
Connecticut Public
The Shelton Board of Aldermen look on as audience members speak during a public comment section of a board meeting, May 14, 2024. The city could lower the school's budget later this month.

“I've been to meetings where I've had city officials tell me it's not their fault. It's the state's fault. It's the federal government's fault. It's the teachers, there's so much blame being placed,” Meyer said.

At least one parent said the Republican-controlled city government and BOE didn’t prioritize education funding.

But BOE chair Amy Romano, a Republican, pushed back on criticisms that the city or the board didn’t do enough. She said the city is trying to get more funding from the state government to offset their budget issues.

Romano denied there was any partisanship behind the school budget proposal, and she said a rise in students with special needs was impacting the budget.

“We are always constantly telling parents, please go to Hartford, advocate in Hartford, because that is where our voices do need to be heard up there to fully fund special education costs,” Romano said.

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