BPS Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Carver, Explains the Budget Process

Report by Paula Antolini, February 7, 2020, 2:46PM EDT

Message from Dr,]. Christine Carver, Bethel Public Schools Superintendent:

Dear Parents/Guardians, Staff, and Community Members:

Last night the Board of Education unanimously approved an increased proposed school budget of 4.69%. Concerned with increased enrollment, social emotional well-being of our students, and providing appropriate intervention programs in mathematics, the Board of Education, supported by the administration, created a plan to begin to address those needs. Specifically, the Board added three math interventionists and a social
emotional learning coach. I would highly encourage you to attend the presentation to the Board of Finance and Board of Selectman (see below) on February 19th to understand the data to support the decision and details of how it will provide for the needs of our students.

At a recent PTO meeting, I met parents who have recently moved to the Bethel Community. The new community members had a lot of questions regarding the town referendum process for the education, town, and capital budgets. As we have many new families, I thought I might take this opportunity to provide our broader school community with this information, outlined in the town charter. These are the steps and timeline on the education side (and a very similar process happens on the town side):

  1. The Superintendent proposes an education budget to the Board of Education in late January outlining the district needs.
  2. The Board of Education holds a series of workshops to extensively review that budget and make any revisions they feel are appropriate and votes on an adopted Board of Education budget in mid-February.
  3. The Board of Education budget is presented to a joint body of the Board of Selectman and Board of Finance. Our scheduled date is February 19, 2019 at 7:00 PM in the Municipal Center, Conference Room A. At this presentation, there is no public input, but it is an opportunity to hear the rationale behind the proposed budget.
  4. The Board of Selectman and the Board of Finance review the totality of the town and school budget and can determine to move it to a public hearing as presented, make cuts or increase the budget.
  5. A Public Hearing is conducted to answer any residents’ questions regarding the budget, support of the budget and/or concerns. The Board of Selectman and Board of Finance use the information from the public input to determine if they will make any further adjustments to the budget prior to the Town Meeting. This meeting is important for parents to provide input. The meeting is open to parents, community members, and employees. Only Bethel residents are allowed to provide public input. The Public Hearing this year is scheduled for Monday, March 23, 2020 at 7:00 PM in the Bethel High School Auditorium. Babysitting will be provided.
  6. The proposed town, school, and capital budget then goes to an Annual Town Meeting. This meeting, by town charter, has to be scheduled on the first Monday in April. The town meeting is for registered Bethel voters. At this meeting, the registered body of Bethel voters vote to move the budget to a referendum or townwide vote. By charter, any resident, from the floor can make a recommendation from the floor to reduce any aspect of the budget and the voters present vote on the motion. There are three votes at this meeting, the town budget, the school budget, and the capital budget. This year’s Annual Town Meeting is on Monday, April 6, 2019 at 7:00 PM in the Bethel High School Auditorium. Babysitting will be provided.
  7. The Annual Budget Referendum is the next phase. This is the actual machine vote or election on the budgets. This date is set at the Town Meeting. Registered voters can cast their ballots towards the proposed budget. Per Charter, there are three votes on the referendum, town, school, and capital. The vote is bifurcated, meaning if it passes, it can’t be readjusted after the vote.

People frequently ask me, “Why on the ballot do they ask the question, too high or too low on the ballot?” Mostly the responses are supposed to provide guidance to the Board of Finance if the budget fails.

I would ask you to carefully review the Superintendent’s Proposed Budget presentation and the Board of Education’s Approved 2020-2021 Budget Proposal which has all of the details and contact me directly with any questions or concerns. (carverc@bethel.k12.ct.us)

The Board of Education wants to make sure you are informed and have a chance to be involved in the budget process. (*see meeting details below). *You are welcome to attend all or any of our budget meetings/meetings.
BOE Budget Presentations/Schedule
• February 19th, BOE Budget Presentation to Board of Selectmen/Board of Finance, 7:00 PM, Municipal Center, Conference Room A.
• March 23rd, Public Hearing, 7:00 PM, Bethel High School Auditorium
• April 6th, Annual Town Meeting, 7:00 PM, Bethel High School Auditorium
As the schedule develops we will post it on the website, in our newsletter, and on social media.All Board of Education meetings/workshops are held in the Board of Education Offices, Meeting Room E, Clifford J. Hurgin Municipal Center, 1 School Street, at 7:00 p.m. (unless otherwise posted).

Please Note: Prior to the budget being set for referendum, 2020-2021 Education Budget Information can be found here in tSuperintendent’s Bethel Public Schools Newsletter each week and on our website. 2020-2021 Education Budget Information.