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School board changes mind, adopts Wheeler's budget
Litchfield.bz (03-27-12)


After hearing more than three hours of public comment Monday, Litchfield's Board of Education scrapped its proposed budget for 2012-13 and reverted to the spending plan that was proposed by Superintendent of Schools Deborah S. Wheeler.

The board voted 5-3 to drop its proposal of $16,720,401, which was $172,401, or 1.04 percent, higher than the current budget of $16,548,000, and adopt Wheeler's plan of $16,711,751, which is $163,394, or .99 percent, higher than the current budget.

The board's vote came after more than 70 parents and teachers filled the high school library to protest the proposed budget's call to eliminate a language arts and supplemental skills position at Center School.

Voting to revert to Wheeler's proposal were Gary Waugh, Amy Rosser, Gayle Carr, James Katzin and Betsy Fabbri. Donald Falcetti, Wayne Shuhi and John Bongiorno supported maintaining the board's proposed spending plan. Chairman Frank Simone, who usually only votes to break a tie, did not vote.

"We heard from the people, we voted and now we move forward," Simone said Tuesday.

It was Fabbri who turned the tide in favor of Wheeler's budget. Earlier in the month, she sided with Simone, Falcetti, Shuhi and Bongiorno in supporting adjustments to Wheeler's proposal that included elimination of the language arts and supplemental skills position and the addition of $263,000 in technology initiatives.

The adoption of Wheeler's spending plan means the language arts and supplemental skills position is back in the budget, as is a world language teaching position at the intermediate school and a new science teaching position at the intermediate school.

Gone from the adopted budget are the technology initiatives that included an upgrade for the high school and intermediate school and a new technology director position. The upgrade called for wireless capability for the two schools.

The proposed budget will be aired at a public hearing in late April.