I think it’s time to break out the No Doze for area elected officials. (Make it maximum strength.) It was a long and crazy night–into the morning–for the state legislature, and another tense night for the Board of Education. Is there an espresso machine handy for all? Judging by pennies the Board of Education is scrounging to close a major hole in the budget year that begins July 1, they’d probably cut the coffee machine too.
The legislature passed a new ethics law that allows a judge to clip the pensions of corrupt public officials, but did not include State Rep. Chris Caruso’s demand for retroactivity. Caruso says he’ll bring that issue up next year. The staties also extended the real estate conveyance tax that is expected to drum up needed dollars for local communities and voted to delay an increase in the gross receipts tax that will save a few pennies per gallon of gasoline.
The Board of Education chopped another $500,000 in an effort to fully close the $10 million hole. Legal and labor relations fees, and a public relations position were snipped. A pretty good war of words has started between board members and Mayor Bill Finch, actually more like finger pointing. It’s your job, no your job. What about all those high-priced administrators the BOE has? Birdie asks. What about all of yours? the BOE responds. Birdie and BOE President Max Medina have never been best of buds, so it could get testy.
I’m still wondering, though, what’s wrong with Max’s plea to unions to accept shortening the school year by three days to save another $1.8 million?
Mayor Reacts to BOE,
The Mayor would like to reiterate today that his proposed Fiscal Year 2008-2009 budget increased the Bridgeport Board of Education’s budget by 4.11 percent, or $8.8 million. The Board of Education will be receiving an increase of 3.5 percent, or $7.5 million this year. Once money is appropriated to the Board of Education, the Mayor has no say in how the Board allocates its funds. According to Connecticut State statute, “The money appropriated by any municipality for the maintenance of public schools shall be expended by and in the discretion of the Board of Education” (Sec. 10-222).
“I once again call upon the Board of Education to stop all the rhetoric and confusion they have recently conveyed to the media,” stated Mayor Finch . “It serves no purpose to the City of Bridgeport or the children of our City. I fully understand what a difficult time this is for both the City and the Board of Education, and I would prefer to work together to find real solutions during a difficult time rather than point fingers. We are in a very real budget crisis, during which we were still able to increase Board of Education funds, and this is no time to play politics with our children’s education.”
Finch Announces Health Clinic Plan,
Mayor Bill Finch (D-Bridgeport) today announced that School Based Health Centers in Bridgeport will continue to be funded through the end of the year through state grant funding and some city funds appropriated by the City Council at the Mayor’s recommendation. The State of Connecticut Department of Public Health will issue the Request for Proposals (RFP) and will oversee the process to select an outside operator to run the centers in the future.
“My administration has agreed to a comprehensive transition plan for the next six months of operation for the city’s School Based Health Centers,” Mayor Finch said. “During that time, the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health will conduct the RFP process to search for an outside provider to run the school based health centers.
“I am extremely pleased that we have been able to find a viable method to preserve an important city service while cutting costs to the taxpayers. With this plan, there will be a minimal loss in staff positions and continued health care service to our children. No School Based Health Center will be closed under this plan.”
The Mayor also expressed his thanks to the expert panel he had assigned to investigate the best transition to an outside provider for the centers, which he had announced in May, as well as School Based Health Center Director Kate Gredinger.
Ms. Gredinger stated, “This has been an arduous process, but we are at the point where we are working collaboratively with the Mayor’s office to ensure a very successful transition of the School Based Health Centers to a new provider as of January 1, 2009.”