Given the , Superintendent of Schools Dr. Elliott Landon has addressed the financial constraints mainly by reconstructing and eliminating staff and pushing off non-essential maintenance and repairs.
Administrative positions were abolished, certified teaching and support staff were reduced, and non-certified jobs in all categories, from secretaries to paraprofessionals, were eliminated, Landon explained in his budget proposal to the board.
“These limited budgetary allocations have required us to neglect to fully address all of our needed building and grounds projects and our commitment to restorative and preventative maintenance,” Landon stated in the 2012-2013 recommendation, which is $100,543,382 in total, a 2.5 percent (roughly $2.4 million) increase over the 2011-2012 budget.
Landon’s proposal is relatively ‘flat’ compared to the 2.1 percent budget increase for the 2011-2012 school year, which is what the Board of Finance requested.
Board of Education Chair Don O’Day said Monday night he would not look to building maintenance to reduce the recommended budget because maintenance is "” Assistant Superintendent for Business Nancy Harris, who believes the health and safety throughout the entire school district is a high priority, said they have been prudent and cautious with maintenance in past years.
“We need to look at the condition of our facilities and start putting back normal maintenance operations that we simply sliced and diced out of the budget in recent years,” Harris said at the Board of Education meeting.
Landon agreed that health and safety is important, but there are ways to cut costs. Sealing pavement cracks rather than ripping up and repaving entire parking lots is one way Westport has been saving money. Landon was forced to sacrifice building, grounds and preventative/restorative projects, leaving only projects that pose possible health and safety risks.
“We value our buildings, but the instructional program takes the highest priority,” Landon said. “We have to pick and choose.”
The superintendent’s proposal essentially maintains Westport’s educational programs at their current levels.