Current Board of Education Chairwoman Sandy Steichen has some explaining to do...
It appears that Mayor Boughton and Board of Education chairwoman Sandy Steichen have no problem violating the city charter when it suits their needs.
This week, the Republican controlled Board of Education presented and approved a budget proposal that includes a request for 5.98 percent (aproox. 6 million dollar) increase in spending.
While I have plenty to say about the BOE's laughable budget proposal, a proposal that not only has ZERO chances in becoming reality but should anger every parent who is concerned about the quality of education in the city, for purposes of this post, I want to focus on the decision-making of the newly elected and controversial BOE chairwoman, a mayor who has LONG proud tradition of violating the city charter, and an education beat writer who has a LONG track record of overlooking problems within the BOE.
Here's what News-Times "reporter" Elieen FitzGerald wrote about the BOE budget approval...not the section in bold.
The Board of Education sent the mayor a $122.7 million budget for 2013-14 to run the 18 city schools that serve about 10,400 student
The proposed budget represents a $6 million, or 5.98 percent, increase over the current budget.
The city charter requires the board to submit a plan to the mayor by Feb. 15, but Boughton gave them an extension.
While this all seems fair at first glance, there's one slight problem...per city charter, when it comes to budget proposals, the mayor does not have the right to extend any deadline for any department.
Here's the section of the city charter that pertains to the budget...the portion that involves the responsibility of the BOE is highlighted in bold.
Section 7-2 DEPARTMENT ESTIMATES.
The Mayor shall compile preliminary estimates for the annual budget. The head of each department, office or agency of the City as described in Section 7-1 of this Chapter, including the Board of Education, shall, not later than February 15th or the next business day thereafter if February 15th shall not be a business day, file with the Mayor on forms prescribed and provided by him, a detailed estimate of the expenditures to be made by the department, office or agency and the revenue other than tax revenues, to be collected thereby in the ensuing fiscal year and such other information as may be required by the Mayor or the City Council.
Section 7-3 DUTIES OF THE MAYOR ON THE BUDGET
Not later than April 7th or the next business day thereafter if April 7th shall not be a business day, the Mayor shall present to the City Council a budget consisting of:
a. A budget message outlining the financial policy of the City government and describing in connection therewith the important features of the budget plan indicating any major changes from the current year in financial policies, expenditures and revenues together with the reasons for such changes, and containing a clear general summary of its contents.
b. Estimates of revenue, presenting in parallel columns the itemized revenue collected in the last completed fiscal year, the receipts collected during the current fiscal year prior to the time of preparing the estimates, total revenue estimated to be collected during the current fiscal year, estimates of revenue, other than from the property tax, to be collected in the ensuing fiscal year, and a statement of an estimate of available surplus.
c. Itemized estimates of expenditures, presenting in parallel columns the actual expenditures for each department, office, agency or activity for the last completed fiscal year and for the current fiscal year prior to the time of preparing the estimates, total expenditures and estimated for the current fiscal year, and the Mayor’s recommendations of the amounts to be appropriated for the ensuing fiscal year for all items, and such other information as may be required by the City Council. The Mayor shall present reasons for his recommendations.
d. The Board of Education shall have the same duties and follow the same form and procedure with respect to the budget of the Board of Education as required of the Mayor in Section 7-2 of this Chapter for other departmental estimates.
e. As part of the budget, the Mayor shall present a program to the City Council for adoption, additions or deletions no later than February 15th that has been previously considered and acted upon by the City Planning Commission in accordance with Section 8-24 of the General Statutes, as amended, concerning municipal improvements, of proposed capital projects for the ensuing fiscal year and for the five fiscal years thereafter.
Estimates of the costs of such projects shall be submitted by each department, office or agency annually in the form and manner prescribed by the Mayor. The Mayor shall recommend to the City Council those projects to be undertaken during the ensuing fiscal year and the method of financing the same.
f. As part of the budget, the Mayor shall present to the Council the data required to be presented to the Mayor by Section 7-1.
No where in the charter does it state that the mayor has the ability to grant an extension to any department when it comes to budget deadlines...including the Board of Education whose proposal represents over 50 precent of the city's overall budget.
It's impossible for anyone who follows local politics to believe that Boughton and BOE chairwoman Steichen didn't know that they violated the city's charter. Adding to the lack of accountability is a reporter, whose responsibility is to overlook the decision-making of the BOE, refusing to call into question why charter was violated and why it took so long for the BOE to present and approve a budget proposal in the first place.
Given the outlandish barrage of criticisms Steichen directed towards for the previous BOE chairwoman's leadership last year, her inability to provide a budget proposal on time AND in violation of the charter reeks of hypocrisy...but most people have no clue of this nonsense because the reporter assigned to covering the BOE routinely overlooks these matters.
The public has a right to know what is REALLY happening within the BOE...and it appears that the education beat reporter for the News-Times doesn't share in that viewpoint.
...to be continued.