I am a fiscal conservative and believe that the Board of Education should be more responsible about spending.
The Board of Education’s operating budget is $93 million and is over 60% of the town budget. With capital expenditure and debt service, education spending is nearly 2/3 of town spending. Without restraint in school spending, it is not possible to keep property taxes down.
If elected, I would first look at services on back end administrative services that are currently done separately by both the Town and the School District that can be consolidated. We have separate IT (information technology), payroll, financing, purchasing, etc. for the Town and for the School District. But, these are funded by one set of taxpayers, why shouldn’t these services be combined for cost savings? These are services that do not directly impact education, so these should be examined first.
However, the biggest cost is school payroll. Darien, with a very similar demographic, has a more than 7% lower ratio of employees to students and they also maintain a top notch school system (based on EdSight.ct.gov data). In addition, over the last decade, also using data from EdSight.ct.gov, the headcount in the New Canaan Public Schools has increased 16%, but the enrollment numbers have only increased 3%. And most of this excess growth has been in non-instructional staff. Since New Canaan had a top notch school system 10 years ago, I think it is worth looking at whether all of this increase in headcount is necessary to maintain an excellent school system.