Torrington School Year Could Be Delayed As Officials Wrangle With Lack of State Budget
Students in Torrington may have a few extra days of summer, and they have the state to thank.
Because there’s still no approved state budget, school officials are trying to conserve the city’s money any way they can.
The Torrington Board of Education voted Wednesday to delay the first day of school for students until either Sept. 5 or 7, depending on guidance from the city, and hold convocation and professional development for teachers on Aug. 28 and 29. For each day the district delays opening school, it can delay spending $190,000 — for teachers and staff salaries.
Board members plan to reach out to district employee unions to discuss the plan, according to board Chairman Fiona Cappabianca, and to the city for guidance on what level of expenses needs to be delayed.
Municipal aid to the city will probably not arrive as usual, given the lack of a state budget, Cappabianca said Wednesday. Tax Collector Laura Goslee recently announced that car tax bills will be delayed while the city waits to see whether the assessment cap on motor vehicles will be increased or eliminated.
This lack of revenue could lead to a cash flow problem for the city and the school district, Cappabianca said.
“We’re going to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” said Cappabianca. “But we owe it, I feel, to our staff, our families and our students, to get in front of this and not wait until there is a cash flow issue and we have to address it, when it’s, quite frankly, too late for the Board of Ed to address it in September.”
The board considered a list of options prepared by Superintendent of Schools Denise Clemons and Interim Business Manager Arthur Poole Wednesday, which, in addition to changes in the start of school for students and faculty, also included the possibility of delaying invoice payments.
“These are the only options that we have at such short notice, without proper time to plan,” said Clemons.
Classes were to start Aug. 30, but... back to top
Board members settled on the delay to the start of school — classes were expected to start Aug. 30, according to the approved district calendar.
Implementing this measure would use up some or all of the snow days built into the calendar. If necessary, days off could be made up during the prescribed April break or at the end of the year.
“I’m praying already — no snow,” said Clemons. “I don’t know how lucky I’ll be.”
If all five days are used, according to Clemons, high school graduation could be put off until July 1.
Teachers and staff will still receive the same amount of pay under the new schedule. The first check for staff will be delivered on time, with the second delayed.
“We certainly don’t want to create a hardship for anybody,” said Cappabianca. “We’re trying to look for a creative way to avoid a draconian (change).”
Mayor Elinor Carbone said Wednesday that the flow of state funding may proceed as normal, and mitigation efforts may not be necessary.
The Board of Finance asked for mitigation plans at its last meeting, Carbone said — she plans to bring one before the board at its August meeting — but not implemented just yet.
The first Education Cost Sharing payment from the state, which funds the school district, is usually received in October or November, Carbone said. Until then, money from the collection of taxes will continue as usual.
The point at which the lack of a state budget would impact the city’s cash flow, she said, is still uncertain. But as the delay lengthens, she said, the level of concern grows.
“If this goes too much into September, we’re going to have to make some tough decisions,” said Carbone.