If the budget approved by the Southington Board of Education last month — $100.2 million, which represents a 4.6 percent increase over the current budget of $95.8 million — was enough to raise a few eyebrows, the salary increases for certain top posts raised a few questions.
There are structural changes involved, including the elimination of a position paying $90,000, that may explain some double-digit raises, but we have to wonder how well they are justified and what effect they’ll have on the public perception of school spending. That is, if indeed the Board of Finance and the Town Council approve the increase in education spending, which finance board Chairman John Leary has characterized as being “far above inflation.”
While the Board of Finance and the Town Council must approve the total spending of the Board of Education, they do not get into specific items, such as salaries. Still, certain items — especially in this, an election year — cannot have escaped public attention.
Although most school administrators are slated for raises between 2 and 3.5 percent, there are some major exceptions. For instance:
■The operations director's salary will go in stages from $116,000 to $141,000 by Nov. 9, a 22 percent increase over his current pay. ■An accounting manager’s salary will increase from $77,000 to $85,000 on July 1 and then to $90,000 on Jan.1, 2020, for an increase of nearly 17 percent.■The maintenance foreman's salary will go from $75,000 to $80,000 on July 1 and then to $85,000 later in the year, a 13 percent increase.
Some of these raises do “jump out,” as Councilor Tom Lombardi put it, but he added that the school board did give reasons for the raise.
Still, every town and city in Connecticut has learned through bitter experience over the past couple of years that any specific level of aid expected from the state is no longer a given. Budget time is a time when the towns have to hold their breath. Even with a new governor in place, they can only hope for the best from Hartford.
In such an atmosphere, is this the time for double-digit raises anywhere in town or state government?
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