Rabinowitz Proposes Increased Hamden School Budget

State mandates that don't provide the funding to back them are behind the 3.57 percent increase, the superintendent says.


Unfunded state mandates are fueling the 3.57 percent increase in her proposed 2013-14 school budget request, Supt. of Schools Fran Rabinowitz said Tuesday night when she unveiled the proposal at the school board offices.

The $83.1 million proposal is $2.8 million more than the current $80.3 million budget. Of the $2.8 million, $2.1 million is for non-discretionary items, or things called for by contract or by necessity, and $713,389 is for discretionary spending that Rabinowitz said she feels is necessary.

"A lot of effort went into this, and what I think you'll see is our best thinking as to what our schools need, as well as the Hamden community," she said. 

The bulk of the discretionary increases, $304,668 is for three administrative positions at the three largest elementary schools -- West Woods, Bear Path and Spring Glen -- but their purpose is for a non-funded state mandated new teacher evaluation system that is going to tax the district both financially and labor wise, Rabinowitz said.

The administrators -- School Improvement Coordinators -- will be the lowest paid administrative positions in the district, she said, and will assist with teacher evaluations, she said. Without them it will be impossible to meet the state requirements for the evaluations, she said, which will require about six hours of time per teacher.

Much of the rest of the discretionary budget increases is in utility accounts -- natural gas ($27,747), electricity ($125,058) and sewer use fees ($9,850) -- that have historically been underfunded. 

"We are trying to true up thees lines that are underfunded each year," Rabinowitz said.

Other increases a $151,573 increase in public and non-public school tuition paid for Hamden children who attend schools other than Hamden Public Schools, and increases for furniture, fixtures and equipment; instructional equipment, postage and other miscellaneous items.

There also is a $30,000 increase for safety items, Rabinowitz said. 

"This will allow us to have money for what we need when we need it, like locks for doors," she said. "We also anticipate a sizable request for safety in the capital budget" which will come as a result of the work being done by a recently formed district safety committee that is researching the issue.

Non-discretionary budget increases include salary increases negotiated by contract for administrators, teachers, clerical, custodians and other employees. Central Office salaries are actually decreasing by $22,088 because the superintendent's salary is lower than in past years.

It also includes increases for transportation, fuel, insurance and unemployment compensation.

The Board of Education's Finance Committee will begin reviewing the proposed budget Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the board meeting room at Central Office. 




Thomas Alegi January 30, 2013 at 03:45 PM
There should be ways of cutting half of $2.8 million out of the school budget, if not Ms. Rabinowitz should use her Double Dipping Government Retirement Money and go on a long holiday to Pago Pago to consider ways of spending less. Forget that, we taxpayers would pay for the Pago Pago trip, I forgot about the small print in Ms. Rabinowitz contract.LOL
George Levinson January 30, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Is anybody surprised? The Superintendent has a lot of chutzbah asking for this much. Last year they added 12 positions and this year they want 3 more! And, of course everybody gets a raise. Sorry Ms. Rabinowitz, the party must end. If the mayor and Council have any sense, this is the year to flat line the budget. We already give the Board much more than they deserve, based on the school performance and compared to the cost of other towns. After the massive tax increases the last two years another 2.8 million more for the BOE would be unacceptable.
Linda C January 30, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a major part of the job of Directors to WORK WITHIN THE BUDGET? This woman has done NOTHING since the day she was hired than constantly ask for millions more every year!!! SHE DOESN'T RESIDE IN HAMDEN, therefore the constant Mill rate increases don't effect her in the least, other than getting paid TWICE - NOT TO DO THE JOB!! She NEEDS TO GO!!! AS WELL AS ANY BOARD MEMBER WHO APPROVES ANY BUDGET INCREASE FOR ANY DEPARTMENT!! It's OVER FOR THE HAMDEN TAX PAYER CASH COW! We have been DETRIMENTALLY hit with OUTRAGEOUS tax increases the past two terms and have literally NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT!! How about Mrs. Rubenowitz comes back with the Highest State Scores for all school age children in Connecticut and prove any of these increases have had an effect on anything other than HER BANK ACCOUNT!! TAX PAYERS IN HAMDEN YOU NEED TO STAND TALL AND LOUD BEFORE THEY PRICE YOU RIGHT OUT OF YOUR HOMES!!! North Haven was also a town given federal monies. They hired extra teachers, janitors and office workers for their schools. When the money stopped the following year - THOSE PEOPLE WERE LET GO!!!!! Financial Aid isn't a cliff from which you create MORE FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES!! It's to HELP OFF SET CURRENT SPENDING. Wake Up People - THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT YOU OR YOUR CURRENT STRUGGLES!! HOW MUCH FINANCIAL HELP IS YOUR BUDGET GETTING?
Donna January 30, 2013 at 09:07 PM
The time has come when Hamden Citizens say NO to more taxes. The increases of the past year have completely broken the back of many in this town. I am appalled that the BOA has asked for this increase. I am outraged that she has the ***** to ask for 3 more positions "School Improvement Coordinators" to help with evalutations!! The top-heavy BOA can certainly do this. Take 3 of the 8 Administrators/Assistant Principles from Hamden High to help. We cannot tolerate any more increases.
Thomas Alegi January 30, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Funny thing, Hamden voters keep on voting for big spenders year after year, I wonder why?
Dan Garrett January 31, 2013 at 01:11 AM
Our children are the future of this great country. We must fund our fine Hamden schools. Many people choose to live in Hamden because of the school system. Complaints about taxes are getting old. You can pack up your station wagon and move to Florida. My taxes pay for your Medicare, and I don't complain. I am happy to pay my taxes, it's the patriotic thing to do.
Thomas Alegi January 31, 2013 at 02:28 AM
Dan, our founding fathers must not have been patriotic when they complained about high taxes to the King of England. In addition, I would say the loyalist to the King said the same thing as you Dan, “Complaints about taxes are getting old.” LOL
Mario January 31, 2013 at 03:26 AM
I don't understand why residents who are unhappy don't just move to the Utopia they are seeking? That's right, there is no such thing as a Utopia. The reality is many of the state mandated reforms will cost districts additional money. Special education costs are increasing and must be covered as well. I wonder if the citizens who are voicing their displeasure voiced the same displeasure when their children attended schools?
Thomas Alegi January 31, 2013 at 06:29 AM
Mario, I can only speak for myself, I have spoken up about wasteful spending of taxpayer’s money before during and after my children went to Hamden schools. Today my children have children of their own and I do not mind paying taxes to educate my children or any child. What I do mind is the amount that wasteful spending has increased in this town state and nation over the past 20 years or so. With that said let me ask a few questions, do you think it would be less expensive if three or four towns polled their education money together to educate children? Do you think it would less expansive for towns, if our state leaders in Hartford would stop mandating un-funded programs for towns? Do you think it would be less expensive to operate this town if Hamden residents voted Yes or NO on a proposed town budget? Now for the last question, do you think that our political leaders in Hamden and in the state capital have tunnel vision?
Linda C January 31, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Mario and Dan, Next town meeting you should suggest a program where YOU can volunteer to be charged whatever's needed to balance the budgets. Also Thanks so much for paying my medicare (not on it yet or even close), however I appreciate it. Could you contact the Federal Government and tell them they can stop taking it out of My Check, since you want to pay it! As far as Moving, maybe if you got your head out of the clouds for a few minutes you'd notice ALL THE FOR SALE SIGNS UP IN HAMDEN!! More now than I've ever seen, and I've been here my entire life!! Bottom line is not everyone has YOUR never ending line of Cash coming in, and these CONSTANT tax increases are truly HURTING SOME FAMILIES!! I'm not talking about vacationing in America vs Europe, or not being able to get a new car every 4 years. I'm talking keeping a roof over their heads, buying groceries, paying for health care, and insurances. The extras went out the window a few years ago. It's obvious with your medicare comment. You probably don't believe Hamden's elderly who raised their children here, who help to make Hamden the TOWN IT USE TO BE. Deserve the right to live the rest of their lives in their home of many years! You're right, price them out and let people who really want to be here - be here!! THAT'S OBVIOUSLY THE SAME TRAIN OF THOUGHT AS THE BOE, RUBINOWITZ AND MAYOR JACKSON! Even though MOST OF THEM DON'T LIVE IN HAMDEN!! Might be why they don't mind the constant Mill Rate Increases!
Mario January 31, 2013 at 09:23 PM
Linda, please tell me one of those "For Sale" signs is on your front lawn! (Sorry I did not capitalize any of my words, but thanks to a good public education I learned how to type properly.)
Mario January 31, 2013 at 09:32 PM
There are numerous districts in Connecticut that have a lower student population with a greater BOE budget than Hamden. Pooling district funds may allow some towns to use less buildings (saving on utilities) but that could be offset by increased transportation costs. I wish our nation and state leaders would stop mandating reforms without proper funding, but it is the current reality that we must adjust to. Adjusting does not mean simply saying "no" to budget increases but also looking at ways to save costs where we can. Saying "no" to a budget simply means that cuts and sacrifices will have to be made in certain areas, but I have never believed that education should be one of those areas. Education has always been an investment in our future. I don't know enough about the state and town political machine to opine on "tunnel vision", but I would expect our government leaders to explore all options before hastily making cuts in the areas that would will potentially reap the greatest long term and sustainable success: education.
John February 01, 2013 at 04:55 PM
The problem with this budget is it just adds to the inflated "Overhead" costs that the board of education has and it does not help the students at all. We have too many administrators (many completely incompetent) in our school system already who get paid WELL ABOVE the Private sector and have an incredible benefit package and now she wants to hire more. The problem with education in Hamden are not the teachers but the administrators who PREVENT the teachers from teaching the right way because they do not want to hear the parent complaints about their child having too much homework or not get an "A" or even not having enough FUN in class.
Linda C February 01, 2013 at 06:47 PM
If you would like to purchase my home Mario - I'm selling! However from reading your comments, it's obvious you'd have to ask your mommy first. Grow Up!
Mario February 01, 2013 at 10:01 PM
John, sounds like you had a first hand bad experience with an administrator either as a parent or educator and now it is much easier to place the blame at their feet. The salary for an administrator is in line with the education and time required compared to other occupations with the same demands. The issue at hand is not with the delivery of educational services in Hamden but the cost of it to the taxpayers of the town. Clearly you have a personal agenda.
Mario February 02, 2013 at 03:38 AM
Thanks for the advice Linda. My mom taught me that if you have an issue with problem then be prepared to come up with a solution. All I have seen you post is what you perceive as the problems, but I have never recalled you posting a viable solution. It's easy to complain on a message board when you don't have to take ownership for what you say.
Linda C February 02, 2013 at 07:07 PM
First of all Mario, you seem to be confused as to the purpose of a message board. It's for people to voice their opinions. You seem to be the one who has very little intelligent matter to add to the conversations, so you do as I've often noticed you do. Get Personal! You need to learn to have some tolerance of others opinion, even when it differs from yours. But that will come with maturity. If you truly believe the board and the Mayor's job is to continue to raise taxes year after year with no end in sight and nothing to show for the increases. We are both wasting out time. I for one feel their job is NOT to burden tax payers for an easy solution. That's where your confusion is based. Not my job to come up with solutions, it's theirs. You seem to have more of a problem with me not having answers than you do with the people you elected. So continue to draw your little happy faces on your tax bill and thank them for doing such a bang up job. As for ownership. I have no more anonymity than you, unless you think you're the only Mario in the world.
Mario February 02, 2013 at 07:50 PM
I completely agree with all your points Linda. Keep working to make our town a better place.


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