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POLL: Regular Maintenance in Westport Schools May be Postponed Again

The Westport Board of Education has managed to keep the school budget low in recent years; one way they have done so is by deferring regular maintenance.

Since the beginning of the financial crisis three years ago, the Westport Board of Education (BOE) has had the lowest year-over-year budget increase of any school district within Westport’s reference group (Darien, New Canaan etc.), according to BOE Chair Don O’Day, and the Board of Finance has

“The problem is going to be that we’ve ; some with deferred maintenance,” O’Day said. “We are running out of options to defer.”

Beyond maintenance, Westport Public Schools must meet their contractual salary agreements. O’Day also believes it is necessary to keep all school-related programs intact without adding any new ones and keep class sizes low.

Major repairs such as the replacement of the boilers at  are not included in the operating budget as they fall under 'capital spending maintenance,' which receives different funding.

Small housekeeping items like parking lot repairs, interior painting and general maintanence of the facilities are begining to accumulate.

“Those are the items we have been deferring for a few years and we need to take care of them,” O’Day said.

During the BOF/BOE meeting Tuesday night, BOF member Tom Lasersohn differentiated between 'investment' and 'discretionary' maintenance, and said some maintenance, like painting walls and hallways, can temporarily be put off. Although Lasdersohn believes we must “protect the structures and maintain things that are key to providing smart facilities;” at some point the smaller tasks need to get done.

The BOE will begin to make adjustments to the overall proposed budget and come up with their own budget plan after they receive the superintendent’s recommendation on Jan. 2. 

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