School Closures Are Coming

Christopher Peak PhotosTasked with cutting at least $14.3 million in next year’s budget, Superintendent Carol Birks said that multiple public schools will have to be closed and consolidated by summer.

Birks talked about that plan Monday with the Board of Education.

In her sixth week on the job, Birks has already written up a reorganization plan for several schools and programs — a draft that she’s keeping tightly under wraps until a final decision is made.

Confronted with state budget cuts and the phase-out of a major federal grant, the Board of Education is scrambling to make up millions of dollars from its roughly $190 million budget. Before summer break, the district needs to close a $6.58 million deficit in this year’s budget.

Next year, the district needs to find at least $14.35 million — and possibly more if the alders don’t approve the mayor’s budget request for a $5 million increase in school spending.

The superintendent expects to make up most the money through reducing staff. During a presentation at Monday’s Board of Education meeting, members of her budget team said they’re looking to save $5.58 million by realigning and reducing staff. They’re projecting that school closures will recoup another $3.29 million.

The accountants also plan to draw down $1 million in carry-over funds from grants and cut $1.85 million from operations, transportation and other non-instructional sources.

“The budget presented to the Board of Education was not my budget. I was not here and just started, but I’m going to ensure we get what we need in running the organization more efficiently,” Birks said. “Remember, we’re #OneNewHaven. It’s very difficult to make decisions. We value everyone in the organization; we value every program. However, we can’t operate under a $20 million shortfall. This is not a personal thing: How do we run the organization more efficiently to ensure that students meet their academic needs?”

While Birks is keeping quiet about her exact reorganization plans, the Board of Education is targeting six schools. Darnell Goldson, the board’s president, said that Reggie Mayo, the interim superintendent, had picked out two high schools, an elementary school and three alternative schools for review.

Birks said her list could be different.

At the meeting Monday evening at Celentano School, the board requested pages of data on those schools’ operating costs, staffing ratios, chronic absences, test scores and graduation rates to review at the next Finance & Operations Committee.

Anxiety around the looming closures is already being felt throughout the district, perhaps most acutely at Cortlandt V.R. Creed Health & Sports Sciences, a small high school that’s been threatened with a shutdown before. Once again, a teacher and a coach from Creed Monday begged the board to save their school.

The Finance & Operations Committee asked for site-based operating costs for six schools: Creed, an inter-district magnet high school with 250 students that’s been located in temporary quarters in North Haven since 2013; High School in the Community (HSC), an inter-district magnet high school with 237 students that’s run by the teachers union; West Rock Authors Academy, a K-4 inter-district magnet school with 217 students; and the district’s three alternative schools, New Horizons, Riverside Academy and New Light, which together have 211 students.

Will Clark, the district’s chief operating officer, told the committee that it shouldn’t expect a huge windfall from staffing changes, because the faculty would likely need to be bulked up wherever students land next school year. The main savings will be from rent, utilities and transportation, he added.

Among the six schools the committee looked at, Creed costs the most by far. The buses to North Haven cost $497,000, and the rent costs $408,892, including utilities and cleaning fees.

Riverside, an alternative school in the Hill with 88 students, shells out the most for its building, paying $647,265 for rent, utilities and cleaning fees. HSC spends the most for transportation, paying $530,000 to bus students to its location in Wooster Square.

But of the six schools, HSC also brings in the most inter-district magnet school money from the state, totaling $1,015,543 this year. “With inter-district schools, you want to be careful,” Clark told the committee. “If you close a magnet school, you lose that money unless they go to another magnet school.”

After looking those numbers over, Goldson asked Birks if her staff ius looking at the right schools.

“Are there any schools that need to be added to this list for study? Or taken off this list?” he asked. “Or maybe would you rather not talk that much in detail?”

Birks said that she didn’t want to discuss specific schools “to be respectful” to each community. “I would like, if we have to go this route, to engage people in a respectful way and have a plan around staffing,” she said.

Later, she told the Independent that she’d be basing her decision on several factors, including enrollment numbers, the cost to operate facilities, the size of the faculty, and the presence of racial isolation with more than 75 percent of the students being minorities, among others.

Birks said that she plans to make her initial recommendations to the board within two weeks.

“I know that we’re up against a timeline. We want to make sure that families know what options they have,” she told the committee. “I can do it tomorrow, but I don’t want to. It won’t be prolonged. We’re going to do it in a way that makes sense, because as [Goldson] mentioned, June will be here before we know it.”

Birks said it hasn’t been easy to think about closing schools, just as she’s trying to get to know the district. But she believes the changes will benefit the district’s academics overall.

“It’s not easy because I believe people empower people,” she said. “We’re in the adjustment phase because the revenue’s just not there.”

Before the superintendent makes that decision, Creed’s track coach invited her to come visit the school, even if she drops by unannounced.

“We take students that schools do not want to deal with and we make it work,” said Melvin Wells. “We would love the opportunity to be back in New Haven. That is up to you; we’re dying to do it. Please do not make a decision like that without seeing what we do here at Creed.”

Another faculty member at Creed, Jennifer Sarja, the lead English teacher, also asked the board to consider whom their decisions would affect.

“To the board, respectfully, I keep reading in the newspapers that what we know what we’re going to save,” she said. “My question is, Do you know the cost of what you are going to lose?”

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posted by: MarcoHaven on April 24, 2018  7:45am

Visiting Creed will not change the budget issue. Creed is clearly the first school that should be closed based upon its location and its performance and attendance. To defend the school you need to come up with something less anecdotal and more fact-based.

posted by: Noteworthy on April 24, 2018  7:48am

Great News - Good Start Notes:

1. The closing and consolidation of New Haven’s sprawling network of schools is long overdue. The list of schools should be expanded. There is no reason for this many schools amid a shrinking budget - there is no valid argument to keep them open.

2. We have more schools than anybody in the state - and among the poorest results of any district in the state.

3. The BOA should not grant the $5 million the BOE is looking for - and the allocation next year should be cut by another $5 million.

4. The BOE has been used as an employment agency for far too long - and the magnet schools have been financially engineered to garner the most in state construction and operational funds. This was a horrible idea from the beginning - and it encouraged gross spending, debt and management costs.

5. Visiting one of these schools is not necessary - don’t waste your time. Make strategic decisions - cut.

posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on April 24, 2018  7:57am

To those parents that can, I think that it is time to seriously consider home-schooling your children.  The Democratic Party has failed New Haven and only domestically, in one’s own home, can the children be saved from what the government in New Haven has decidedly proven it cannot do.

posted by: Mikelive on April 24, 2018  8:00am

“4. The BOE has been used as an employment agency for far too long - and the magnet schools have been financially engineered to garner the most in state construction and operational funds. This was a horrible idea from the beginning - and it encouraged gross spending, debt and management costs.”

This is sad and true on many different levels.

Birks has a really tough job ahead, I hope she fights for the kids more than her job.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 24, 2018  8:38am

posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on April 24, 2018 8:57am
To those parents that can, I think that it is time to seriously consider home-schooling your children.  The Democratic Party has failed New Haven and only domestically, in one’s own home, can the children be saved from what the government in New Haven has decidedly proven it cannot do.

Parents can do both home-schooling and sending there your children to public schools.Mine did.

posted by: HenryCT on April 24, 2018  8:45am

The education community needs to ask Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Senators Blumenthal and Murphy how increasing the war budget by $80 billion, as they voted for, leaves enough money for schooling our kids.

Perhaps they have in mind pouring the children left behind into military service to get 3 squares and a roof,  and automatic weapons to kill someone else’s children.

posted by: challenge on April 24, 2018  8:54am

Millions to educate our children have been squandered in New Haven for decades through nepotism. For starters how many administrators does a superintendant require?  The current administration has squandered money by returning a retired superintendant who produced this carnage in the first place and should have been pushed out long ago. Before bringing him back it had to pay off the contract of the superintendant forced out.  Hopefully the new superintendant will get rid of the fluff and perserve any chance our children has for quality education, something they haven’t seen for a long time. What’s with all these alternative schools? Either teachers handle a classroom or find another place to teach. It’s not always student behavior that leads to the rise in alternative schools. Many times it’s the teacher’s inability to control a classroom of students who come to school facing many life challenges. Sometimes it simply takes finding capable teachers and paying them accordingly.

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on April 24, 2018  9:00am

UHH,.... real talk?

How about you stop this list and all the communities you’d be uprooting and CANCEL construction on Southern’s campus of a school that currently has NO students or staff.

TAKE any money we have from that and filter it back into existing properties and communities.

North Haven’s location, the bussing cost, and the overall numbers associated with Creed should be enough to seal their fate.


BIGGEST HELP: Consolidate and cut the waste, aka the unneeded amount of admin Fat Cats.

posted by: Esbey on April 24, 2018  9:18am

Sounds like our new superintendent is off to a good start in a tough job.

posted by: positive4NH7462 on April 24, 2018  9:33am

Closing schools are the beginning, but they need to evaluate the top-heavy part of the school system.  Some administrators have administrators.  There are way too many people at the top and not enough that directly work with the children.  New Haven has failed our children for way too long and it is time for a dramatic change.  Start at the top and analyze what work is being done to benefit our children from the top of the system on down.  I do agree that there are way too many schools in New Haven.  We spent millions of dollars to build beautiful schools, which are not so attractive anymore.  Beautiful schools can’t make smarter students, quality teachers and programs do.  So let’s get with the program and make the RIGHT changes. For a change listen to the people, parents of these children that are losing out of a quality education!  Another reason to be positive for New Haven!!

posted by: JDoe on April 24, 2018  10:07am

Fiscal sanity is long overdue and a beautiful thing but don’t be fooled. This is just step one in the plan to siphon public monies to private corporations. Public services around the country are being privatized in order to feed more cash to the already bloated billionaire class (think about the prison industry for example). After the consolidations and closures will surely come the crisis narratives and the “money following the child” nonsense and finally the invasion of charter schools and the data-driven culture that is the real goldmine for hedge funds and other corporations. Magnet schools provide a great opportunity for kids of many different ethnic, racial, social and economic backgrounds to interact and learn from one another unlike the defacto segregation found in many charters. I hope the NHBOE gets its ducks in a row but not at the expense of kids’ educations.

posted by: Razzie on April 24, 2018  10:42am

I applaud the way Supt. Birks and the Board are approaching this issue—Calm, deliberate, data driven and RESPECTFUL. Seems like they have successfully put the trials and tribulations from earlier this academic year behind. They deserve our support.

posted by: opin1 on April 24, 2018  10:52am

Thank you Superintendent Birks. There are far too many schools. Having so many schools doesn’t lead to better education. Dollars are spread too thin on things like building maintenance, utilities, administration, and other overhead. Consolidating schools is a great first step. I agree we also should not be building the new school at SCSU - neither the city nor state can afford it and its simply not necessary. I mean seriously, ask yourself, in this budget crisis, is that school a “nice to have” or do we legitimately NEED it? Next step, reduce the number of highly paid administrators. We have far more administrators per student than other school districts. More teachers, less administrators.

posted by: mechanic on April 24, 2018  11:45am

It’s a shame this happened AFTER the magnet (don’t call it a) lottery.  How does this not affect all schools who will have to absorb these children?  Are there schools that have room to take in new students? Will students just get piled into Cross and Hillhouse?  Will it affect students who are already on waiting lists for different schools?  Are these the most effective schools to close when considering the cost per student?  I wish that we had more feedback on how this will affect the schools district wide, rather than in those schools that so often have a target on their backs.

posted by: TeacherLoveNewHaven on April 24, 2018  12:23pm

It is very easy to say “Close a school.” What is not being thought of is the human component. For many students, their school is their second family - and for some, it is their dominant family. The same goes for the teachers and their relationships with the student body.
It is easy to say “Close a school” because the performance is under par. So many schools receive students that are already years behind where they should be. What is not reported is how much growth many of those youngsters show throughout their years - even though they might not reach the established benchmarks.
It is easy to say “Close a school” without considering that for many students, it is in their school that they receive counselling and can work on alleviating the trauma they have faced that has also held them back academically.
Imagine if your child was at one of these schools - or a family member’s or friend’s child. Imagine if you or your significant other or a friend worked at one of these schools. I can say I have seen first hand the kind of hours New Haven teachers and administrators put into their students. How personally many of them take the welfare and successes or setbacks of their students.
When you close a school, there is a human cost. I realize that the district has to deal with a monetary crisis. But there is so much hurt and damage that comes in with closing schools.

posted by: Noteworthy on April 24, 2018  1:26pm

Another Note:

1. The closing of schools should have happened years ago and would be totally unnecessary if there was a strategic plan besides financial modeling/harvesting of state dollars. This was good on the short term, stupid in the long run. Those in power knew this.

2. No, it is not easy to close schools and yes, there is a human side to doing so. But understand this: The gravy train has to stop. Irrational spending has to stop. The people who are to blame for this mess sit at the top of the NH school system and have been there a very long time pulling in large paychecks and taking care of their politics.

3. Life is about changes. Kids will adapt. They aren’t that weak.

4. The idea that staff will need to be bulked up is another myth - just because consolidate students doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to increase staff. Saying this is just another jobs protection racket. You start with firing all the teachers, principals etc of the closed schools - and you strategically only hire back those that you actually need. Larger classes doesn’t mean more teachers, more principals more anything. It actually means more efficiency.

5. Finally - I strongly suggest the superintendent close one more school than you actually think you need to close. It will give you a budget cushion of at very least, several million dollars.

posted by: Intheknow on April 24, 2018  2:06pm

I do agree the Birks needs to start getting rid of the bloat at Central Office. She should start with Directors. What do they do except have everyone else do their work so they can take credit for it. The principals complain about ALL of their Directors because they never see them in their schools and they don’t provide any real guidance because they are not progressive.  The Curriculum Supervisors should go next. They do absolutely nothing. They should be assistant principals in schools. That’s a savings of well over 1 million dollars.

Until they know where ALL of the children will be successfully placed, including kids just accepted in the “it’s not a Lottery”, closing schools is premature.

I know that Birks is new on the job, but her having a CLOSED DOOR POLICY for staff is not a good look at all. She could take a page out of Reggie’s book about interpersonal relationships with staff. She refuses to meet with people and that is very sad. Practice what you preach Dr. Birks—#1NewHaven or stop saying it.

posted by: RHeerema on April 24, 2018  2:35pm

What a tough way to come into this difficult job! Thank you to Dr. Birks and the Board for being respectful and diligent in analyzing what really needs to be done: closing some schools. As other commenters have mentioned, closing schools is tough on everyone—students, families, teachers, staff, and administrators. I hope the leadership team plans these transitions carefully. But sadly, these closures definitely need to happen.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on April 24, 2018  2:51pm

There are an amazing amount of “advisors” writing comments here who are unwilling to attach their names to their advice.

Of what are you afraid, that your advice is not as great as you perceive it to be when you so confidently post it here?

For those who will respond by writing that “people already know who you are,” you should know that that is even less reason for you to write under pseudonyms and aliases.

I’ve read a lot of seemingly good advice here.  I’m not an expert in controlling school budgets, so I can’t say for sure. The reasoning looks solid, though.

But, what does it matter if you have great ideas if you’re not willing to publicly stand behind what you offer to the public?

The Rev. Mr. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: 1644 on April 24, 2018  2:52pm

Noteworthy:  A caveat to immediate staff and faculty savings:  the union contract likely allows senior teachers from closed schools to “bump” more junior teachers, so long as the senior teachers is, on paper at least, qualified to fill the postion of the junior teacher.  Also, most administrator contracts have clauses allowing administrators whose positions are eliminated to return to classroom teaching while retaining their administrator salary.  So, labor savings will not be as great as they might immediately.  These provisions really just mean even more staff reductions will be needed than would otherwise be the case to make the budget number.  Overall, good moves from Birks.  Closings will be painful for individuals, but must be done.

posted by: nhteach on April 24, 2018  3:19pm

Intheknow—I agree about getting rid of the bloat at central office, but I disagree about the directors and department heads. Realistically, in a large school system, major departments need someone running them and making decisions. I do think that there needs to be an audit of some kind of each dept to see if the heads are doing their jobs well (most are, but not all).

The director in charge of my school is often present. On more days of the week than not and she has been critical in helping to make positive changes at my school. Perhaps we need to look at individual directors and not get rid of all of them in one fell swoop.

posted by: robn on April 24, 2018  3:32pm

Cut administrators.

posted by: Intheknow on April 24, 2018  4:27pm


I agree that each Director needs to be looked at separately—I was haste in my assertion. No excuses.

@Samuel Ross T. Ross-Lee

It would be nice to be transparent, but people have jobs to keep, families to feed, and children in NHPS. Most of us use the NHI as our pulpit.

posted by: TimeforChangeInNewHaven on April 24, 2018  6:50pm

Reggie created this mess and his remaining staffers don’t want change… interpersonal relationships is what got us here… nepotism and more draining schools dry! Go Birks!! Close the door and get it done by all means necessary to save students!!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 24, 2018  8:27pm

Sounds Like Shades of this.

Lean on Me - First Staff Meeting

Lean On Me - Responsibility of Teachers

My Bad. Talk about all this cutting. I bet she will not touch Hooker.

posted by: HenryCT on April 24, 2018  9:01pm

Schools around the country are facing cutbacks. Are all school systems corrupt, bloated, wasteful? Hardly. School teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky are on strike because their right-wing governments are starving the public school system, because they get such low salaries and because the kids are being shortchanged with outdated books and other resources. And what is the argument in this comments section? How best to tighten the noose around the necks of school children. What our schools need is better teacher to student ratios, not worse. They need better resources, not worse. They should all have decent, working computers, not worse. They should provide all the arts, not take them away. Can the schools system work more efficiently - sure. But that is hardly the problem. The infrastructure - dams, roads, rail, water, sewage, bridges, energy-efficient housing, public transit - in the US is in dire need of repair and upgrading. The cities in CT and elsewhere are on the brink of bankruptcy. So in this richest country the world has ever known, we are accepting the notion that the US is so poor it can’t educate its kids. We are scrambling for crumbs when the rich in this rich country take everything; when we pour our treasure into invading other countries. Are we preparing to become serfs or slaves? What an unrealistic, defeatist attitude! No to cuts! The money is there. Stop giving it to the wrong people!

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on April 24, 2018  9:06pm


Are you suggesting that this is a city that will fire its workers for excersizing their 1st Amendment Rights?

I’m HORRIFIED at the suggestion.

posted by: School Advocate on April 24, 2018  11:04pm

Closing schools is a good start. We’ve been opening and closing schools since I moved to New Haven five years ago.
We closed, then reopened Zigler,  finally were able to close Esums on Leeder Hill.
Closed Helene Grant on the boulevard, we should have closed West Rock Authors Academy years ago, but thought it was wise to “sink” five million dollars into air conditioning and water proofing.
Early learning center closed and we survived. The strong school on Orchard should have closed when teachers and students starting feeling sick. No,  the smartest people at 55 Meadow street thought It was wise to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep the broken doors open. Then we decide to open Creed and waste more money bussing kids to North Haven. Elm City Montessori, closed for many years due to unsafe conditions, multiple violations and a compromised structure. Who makes these decisions.
Close these schools once and for all and put them to rest.
All of these schools have been through some type of resurrection. It has cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Enough is enough. I applaud the new superintendents direction.
Sometimes new eyes and new ideas is what’s needed to put this city back on track.
Finally,  how many years have we been paying for the Vacant Strong school on Grand & Clinton Ave.

posted by: 1644 on April 25, 2018  6:04am

Henry:  Are Birks and the BoE “defeatist and unrealistic”?  No.  Being defeatist, i.e., recognizing that, at least in the near term, resources are finite, is being realistic.  The city is broke, the state is broke, and the federal government is not going to help poor cities.  While Malloy and Barnes have said “screw the suburbs”, and taken aid from them to give to cities, future governor Tim Herbst is basically saying, “Screw the cities, they aren’t going to vote for me anyway.”  Herbst is counting on winning in places like Branford and Milford, places that Malloy won, but nonetheless slashed state aid to.  The CT Supreme Court has said the whatever problems city kids have learning in school, those problems are not caused by the schools, and the state does not have a Consitutional responsibility to remediate them.  Birks and the BoE are, rightly, concerning themselves with what is happening in New Haven schools, not with mass transit, bridges, or West Virginia.  And what is happening here is that there is not enough money to fund the present system.  In order to at least keep student teacher ratios reasonable and fund classroom materials, the BoE needs to close schools to stop spending too much on maintenance, utilities, etc., as well as cut administrative overhead generally.

posted by: concerned_neighbor on April 25, 2018  7:18am

Let’s start with the easy stuff - fancy new schools do not improve outcomes. Money from the state towards construction allowed these projects to be political pork.

The nearly $2 billion in school construction in New Haven over the last 15 years is a Potemkin village. First, it was way overbuilt, dictated by politicians not educators. Second, while the state contributed to the construction funding, it is the responsibility of the BOE to care for these buildings over their 50 year useful life, something that they are not capable of doing, because they lack both the professional expertise and the finances to do so. Third, all these new schools and there is little actual improvement.

The gravy train has ended. Those feeding at the trough are worried. How long does the superintendent have before she is run out on a rail with a hefty payoff?

posted by: School Advocate on April 25, 2018  9:15am

The talk of closing several of our 48 New Haven schools along with several rental properties the city pays a third party to use as classroom space is long overdue.
Ridding the city of high paying, lifetime administrative positions, long overdue.
Paying a Facilites company like AFB millions to take care of our schools maintenance,
Rediculous. Why wouldn’t we bring this service in house?
If we’re really talking about saving money, it can’t be one line item that solves our financial problems. Other cities and towns have consolidated resources, which included the elimination of outside management companies like AFB.
The maintenance in some of our schools is so soddy, and no one is held accountable.
Why aren’t board members handed a tally every week of work orders generated, work orders completed, and outstanding work orders.
The number of work orders “not completed” or “on hold” is staggering.  In addition to the 10 or 12 New Haven Board of education maintence staff, there are 25 outside contractors that are hired every year to pick up the slack the city maintenance staff can’t handle. Not only is there no accountability, there’s no sense of purpose. It’s like a dog chasing his own tail.
The principals and building managers are doing their part in writing work orders, yet no one comes to fix the problems. In some cases, in takes months, sometimes years to get a problem resolved. (Wilbur Cross Pool as an example)
As a taxpayer and parent of two kids that go to schools in new haven, enough waste.
President Trump ran his campaign on cleaning the swamp.
Let’s get our swamp in New Haven cleaned up. Time to tighten the belt and make some hard choices.

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on April 25, 2018  9:32am

>>> “The city is broke, the state is broke, and the federal government is not going to help poor cities.”

The State just announced a billion dollar surplus.  Can we fund our schools now, please?

>>> “While Malloy and Barnes have said “screw the suburbs”, and taken aid from them to give to cities’

Not so much.  They took the funds all right, but didn’t use them to increase ECS to the cities (and they cut other grants).

Henry’s got it absolutely right.  These problems are not unique to New Haven.  Bridgeport’s schools are $16.8 million in deficit.  Hartford schools have a gap of $23 million.  Stamford is asking for a 2% increase; Danbury and Norwalk need more than 5%. 

NHPS makes some controversial spending decisions and certainly some mistakes.  But you’d have to remove 125 $150,000 administrators to close a $19 million deficit.  Or 292 $65,000 teachers—that’s essentially what Hartford did in 2016, and now we have some of Hartford’s former leaders making financial decisions.  You’d have to close 6 schools, each saving (not relocating) net $3 million.

The point is, cuts will hurt children’s education severely in a district that cannot afford to lose any ground—here in the richest state, in a city that hosts a university holding more wealth than many countries.

posted by: challenge on April 25, 2018  9:49am

Sounds like somebody has not been doing their job for a long time and yet when people are placed in positions because of who they know and not what they know this is the expected outcome. I’m reading these comments and hearing a lack of true leadership which this community has either turned a blind eye or their concerns ignored. Good luck in clening up this mess. Clean up might actually lead to a reduction in the tax burden due to eliminating city waste.

posted by: FacChec on April 25, 2018  10:24am

It appears Darnell and his financial wizardry crew, Frank Redente and Jamell Cotto, are off to a good start balancing the budget by starting at the bottom employees by reducing the budget by 300K. “Darrell Hill, the district’s part-time chief financial officer, said he and Birks have reduced the deficit for the 2017-18 fiscal years from $6.9 million to $6.6 million since they started six weeks ago, largely by eliminating part-time employees receiving pensions or reducing part time hours.”

Before you can balance the budget in earnest you have to expose the total line item categories in the state/city contribution, and the total grants anticipated.. This discussion produces neither.
Here is the latest govs proposal to be approved by the legislature

Public School Transportation
Non-Public School Transportation-  $0.0 0.0
Adult Education- $19.3 $19.3M

Education Cost Sharing**  $1,580.0 $1,580.0M
Magnet Schools - $ 312.6 $312.6M
Special Education - Excess Cost- $ 0.0 $0.0
Special Education - Student Based - 2017- $0 2018- $597.6 2019-$597.6(new increased)
Local School Construction- 2017 $650M - $2018 600.0 2019-$600.0M

Miscellaneous Education Grants 2017-$- 186.6M   2018-$182.3 2019-$ 184.3

Subtotal - Education:
Gov Rec original:FY 2017-  $ 3,321.7M

Gov Rec Revised FY 2018- 3,291.8M

Gov Rec Revised FY 2019- $ 3,293.8M. Difference between 2017 and 2019 = minus ($3,316.1M).

Birks and Goldson need to show through transparency just how it is they:  “can’t operate under a $20 million shortfall.” According to Birks quote above. The state and city shortfall may amount to $3.3M, so where does the 16.7M shortfall come from, and where are the grant funds in line items??

[Chris: Officials argue that the state’s flat funding of the Education Cost Sharing formula doesn’t make up the extra costs that the district will incur next year. Primarily, those are $5.5 million more in increased salaries and benefits, mostly for supervisors, principals, teachers and custodians; $2.8 million more in tuition for special education programs mandated by students’ individual learning plans; and $1.6 million more for bus rides. That roughly adds up to the $10 million increase the school board requested from the city, which the mayor already cut in half and the alders could wipe away entirely. The other half of the shortfall is less clear to me. Officials also say that, without cuts, the real cost for personnel is closer to $14.8 million higher than last year. I don’t know exactly how that figure’s calculated, but that would explain the other half of the shortfall.]

posted by: 1644 on April 25, 2018  10:52am

Jill: Your reaction to the uptick in revenue is exemplary of why I an other commentators say public employees are complicit in the underfunding of their pensions.  The revenue increase is due at least in part to folks like me who made sure to pay their 2017 state income taxes in 2017, before the $10K SALT deduction became effective.  The rest is notoriously volatile capital gains based revenue.  We have no idea if this revenue will continue.  In the meantime, we have huge shortfalls in both the Teachers’ Retirement and SERS.  Why, because, we have followed the course you advocate to spend today rather than cover future obligations incurred today.  BTW, while many Republican gubernatorial candidates advocate unilaterally reducing teacher and state employee pensions, the Republicans in the legislature have put forth a budget that uses some of this windfall to fill the shortfalls in the pension funds.

posted by: HenryCT on April 25, 2018  10:52am

1644: Thanks for your comment. I am not ignoring the reality of the moment. The state and federal governments are cutting back on our kids right now. Because it has no source of revenue outside raising proper taxes, New Haven has to face that situation head on - how best to cut the education budget and keep most voters at bay. I am concerned that the discussion here, which includes some very thoughtful and appropriate comments, doesn’t look beyond solving the immediate crisis, which will inevitably gore our kids and our whole society. Should we not ask each other to tell the President and our members of Congress to stop throwing money away on killing kids elsewhere (war spending takes up 60% of our federal taxes) because it is also killing our kids at home? Otherwise, we’ll see the public school system squeezed again and again until it collapses. And those families that can afford private schools will send their kids and the rest, the majority, will be left in the dust. Why are we not looking at the future, tragic trajectory of what is happening today? Where is the outrage?

posted by: FacChec on April 25, 2018  11:16am

Estimates of Statutory Formula Grants for FY 2017, FY 2018, and FY 2019

See page 84 - New Haven.Urban Stabilation grants= up $6,018,606 for FY 18 & 19.

Total statutory formular grants+ 2017,18 & 2019. minus $7M.

Total statutory formular grants minus Urban stabilization grants=  minus $1M cut to New Haven currently proposed by the Governor,

Note:1 needs legislative approval.


Legislature recommends increase of $216M in spending.

posted by: 1644 on April 25, 2018  11:55am

Henry:  You can tell our President whatever you want, but I don’t think he listens to any voices but the ones inside his head, which mostly tell him how wonderful he is.  As for Congress, even supposedly leftist Democrats champion weapons system spending when it means jobs in their districts.  I grew up being taught that appeasement and isolationism was bad, in my 58 years have come to believe that our half-hearted intervention in places like Syria, Libya, Ukraine, Egypt and even Iraq (perhaps 3/4’s hearted there) just makes things worse for most people.  And yet, the international press urges our government to “do something” everytime someone does something bad overseas.  Trump was actually the non-interventionist candidate, with his “American First” policy.  In contrast, HRC supported to overthrow of a corrupt but democratically elected President while CRH alumna Vicki Nuland sought to dictate the composition of Ukraine’s cabinet.  And we have the audacity to complain of Russians trolling Facebook!  Anyway, I am off-topic, and the reality is, as you say, New Haven can raise property taxes or cut spending.

posted by: Debsam on April 25, 2018  4:47pm

Im sorry closing creed only hurts the students my daughter is a junior and loves that she is in small learning enivorment. Where else can these kids go and get the learning that these teacher give im sorry but not one other school in new haven offer what Creed does they offer unconn english college chemistry classes and these teachers CARE .So lets punishes these kids because their school was put in North Haven its not their fault i think they need to find space somewhere in new haven and put Creed.This staff really cares about the kids.

posted by: Intheknow on April 25, 2018  7:09pm

@ Samuel T. Ross-Lee

Yes, it is sad that people are afraid to identify themselves because they know there will be repercussions from the Board of Education. As long as you say “good stuff” about the BOE, you can identify yourself. If you have negative, honest comments, the 1st Amendment will NOT protect you. That’s real!


Nepotism has been rampant at the BOE, but I hope Birks first learns what people bring to the table before she shows them the door. I’m doubtful about this, but I can still hope. You can’t learn what people do if you are not willing to meet with people and observe them. Birks is coming in BLIND, but she plans to wield a big stick. I pray the casualties of her big stick are not people who are passionate and dedicated to New Haven Public School children.

posted by: 1644 on April 26, 2018  6:38am

Debsam:  Are you suggesting Jill and her fellow teachers out at ESUMS don’t care?  NHI did an article recently about a ESUMS student who was taking, and passing nearly every AP program there is.  MollyW recently commented on how great an education her son got at Hillhouse.  Yes, your daughter will be hurt, as will the faculty and staff.  Life is not fair, and change is constant.  I expect the school closing is one of many obstacles she has encountered in life, but they not not defeat her.  Personally, I changed schools every year of my high school years.  The effects it had on me, and the different things a learned from each school were the topic of my primary college essay.  Perhaps, your daughter’s theme will echo that,  with a bit of “Who Moved My Cheese” layered in.

posted by: Debsam on April 26, 2018  7:12am

To 1644 im not saying other teachers dont care about their students. But because of Creed being a small school the students and the teacher have a more one on one learning and their is NO other school that offer the Health science and sports medicine course what these kids want.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on April 26, 2018  8:29am

HenryCT says “The education community needs to ask Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Senators Blumenthal and Murphy how increasing the war budget by $80 billion, as they voted for, leaves enough money for schooling our kids.”
ANSWER:  They only did it for the CT portion of the war machine, e.g. Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics- Electric Boat, United Technologies, etc. And—more importantly—the unions at those firms which donate to their re-election campaigns.
TeacherLoveNewHaven says “For many students, their school is their second family - and for some, it is their dominant family… even though they might not reach the established benchmarks”
—which underscores what perhaps is a PRINCIPAL reason for our bloated-but-failing school system. Government has been using public schools as a catch-all for everything under the sun: social engineering, political indoctrination, behavior modification, psychological counselling, substitute parenting, etc. etc. And yet—the kids still can’t read or do math…

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on April 26, 2018  1:16pm

>>> “Are you suggesting Jill and her fellow teachers out at ESUMS don’t care? “

1644, I am not a school teacher, a district employee, or a public employee of any sort.  I am a parent of NHPS students, and I do care about the kids at Creed. 

$1 billion surplus is a lot—plenty to add to the pension fund, the rainy day fund, and still substantially improve education funding.  Remember, some portion of that surplus should be attributed to cuts to education funding.

FacChec, you may be interested to read the district’s draft budget at

posted by: FacChec on April 26, 2018  2:17pm

@ Jill_the_Pill on April 26, 2018 2:16pm

Thank you, but I am not interested in reading a less than one half draft budget which has not even been presented to the BOA as of this reading. The BOE’s full operating budget last year, not listed on NHPS web site, was in excess of $400M. $197M with a $9M deficit, represents the BOA’s ask to the city. Since it is less than half of their official budget, it is irrelevant for further consideration. The BOE and BOA need to rectify this deficiency.


posted by: Former teacher on April 26, 2018  3:01pm

New Haven could save a lot of money by getting rid of two or three floors of administrative staff at their 8 story administration building. They could then get that money to schools to directly support the children they are responsible for.

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on April 26, 2018  4:23pm

Hey FacChec, I don’t understand that list of numbers without labels.  The draft was presented to the Alders last week, I’m fairly sure.  What do you consider missing—grant spending? or benefits?  Whichever, the $197 million is not an “ask” to city taxpayers.  At least $154 million of it is state education funding just passing through the Alders’ hands.

posted by: FacChec on April 26, 2018  5:03pm


I’m sorry if you do not understand the budget numbers, they came from the link you recommended I review.
FacChec, you may be interested to read the district’s draft budget at

No meeting has been scheduled between the BOE and BOA.
Here is the BOE schedule:
Public Engagement
Hold Board of Education Budget Workshop
(Date to Be Determined)
Hold Town Hall Meetings
(April 24, 2018; April 26, 2018; May 3, 2018; and May 29, 2018)
Conduct Community Forums
(May 9, 2018; May 23, 2018; and June 7, 2018)

BOE cancelled meeting:
file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/Agenda (39).pdf

In addition:
The 197M is the BOE ask for funding irrespective if it is from the state ($128M) (gov’s recommendation) for ECS.  And $42,121,972 for special education, the balance of about $44M is the city match…
(See Gov’s proposed budget pg. 66. See also pg. 94 wherein the gov’s budget increases New Haven statutory grant in 2017= $226,942,430 to 2018= $238,989,597, a $12M increase the city can spend where it may.

See also:

Again, I am sorry if you are unable to follow these numbers, perhaps you should relax your comment on this story.

posted by: mrs.sanders on April 26, 2018  6:12pm

Considering the fact that the new superintendent chose a very expensive Mercedes as her car that tax-payers pay for instead of a modest car do we really trust her judgement when it comes to a budget? West Rock Stream Academy which is the real name of the school is an amazing school. My sons have been excelling in their academics, thanks to the wonderful staff. Not just that but if there was a deficit and need to close schools that should have been done well before the lotto and definitely shouldn’t have been done a month and a half before school is over. As a parent I am appalled at how awful the New Haven school district handles important matters. No one is ever available for calls or gets back to anyone in regards to concerns. West Rock is amazing at handling any concerns we have. This is completely unacceptable.

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on April 26, 2018  9:12pm

“Again, I am sorry if you are unable to follow these numbers, perhaps you should relax your comment on this story.”

It’s your formatting that is unclear.  And I believe you have some of it mixed up.

If you go to  and download the Agenda from April 19, you will see the Board of Education, or its representatives, did indeed appear before the Board of Alders.

posted by: 1644 on April 27, 2018  7:39am

Jill: Sorry, from your earlier posts about ESUMS I thought you were a teacher there.  It seems you are a very involved, knowledgable, and caring parent.  As for the “surplus”,  the alliance districts, which include New Haven, were largely sheltered from cuts’ essentially flat funded.  The better performing districts were cut substantially.