With many residents, students, teachers and school administrators in attendance at Thursday night, the finance board approved the , which represents a 2.17 percent increase ($2.1 million) over the current year’s budget.
Board of Finance Chair Avi Kaner called Westport’s school system ‘the crown jewel of our community.’
“The quality of our schools not only impacts our students, but also affects our property values. One of the primary reasons people choose to move to Westport is for the schools,” said Kaner, who moved to town with his wife sixteen years ago because of the schools, train station, beaches, and amazing downtown. “We have three children in the school system and have had incredible favorable experiences throughout.”
Westport schools were able to avoid two controversial cuts — eliminating sixth grade French instruction and reducing K-5 physical education instruction — by making some last minute adjustments to the budget. Parents, teachers and students had vociferously opposed the cuts during a public hearing in January.
The proposed budget also reflects the elimination of five secretarial positions for a savings of $230,000.
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Kaner said the board has supported Westport’s schools during his seven years on the finance board and added that they would continue to do so.
“I assure the members of the audience that no draconian cuts will be made,” Kaner said. “While we want a best-in-class school system, we also want the schools to operate efficiently.”
Kaner believes the secret to great schools is the combination of great teachers and manageable class sizes, and added that the Board of Finance has encouraged the Board of Education to ‘find efficiencies in areas not affecting students directly – for example, in administration, insurance, supplies, technology, purchasing, and maintenance.’