Trumbull Board of Education cuts more than $2M from its budget

Photo of Amanda Cuda
Superintendent Martin Semmel speaks at the dedication ceremony for Mary Ellen Way, in front of Jane Ryan Elementary School, in Trumbull, Conn. Nov. 6. 2020.

Superintendent Martin Semmel speaks at the dedication ceremony for Mary Ellen Way, in front of Jane Ryan Elementary School, in Trumbull, Conn. Nov. 6. 2020.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

TRUMBULL — The Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to approve more than $2 million in cuts and adjustments to the budget it had originally approved for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

In February, the board voted to approve a 2022-2023 budget of just under $117.3 million, which represented a $5 million increase from the current budget. However, over the course of the budget process, the Board of Education operating budget was cut to a little more than $115.9 million.

“When we do the budget, it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Trumbull Superintendent of Schools Martin Semmel said during Tuesday’s meeting. “We’re on the last leg of that marathon.”

Semmel and business administrator Paul Hendrickson presented the board with a list of cuts and other changes that would save the board a total of $2,048,413.

One of the biggest changes the board made was switching insurance carriers. Semmel said the Board of Education had been on the State Partnership Plan but, when it was discovered that insurance costs from that plan were expected to increased by 10.5 percent, the decision was made to find a new insurer.

Semmel said the swap is expected to save $484,000. Had the change not been made, he said, “That would have resulted in six to eight teacher reductions if we didn’t make a move to change insurers.”

Board of Education Chair Lucinda Timpanelli asked if the change had the approval of the teachers’ unions. “We definitely need these savings,” she said. “We just want an assurance that all the union are comfortable with the switch.”

Semmel said he had met with the union leaders and they seemed comfortable with the new plan. The board’s insurance consultant, Rob Fitzpatrick, who attended the meeting virtually, said he was also confident that the union memberships would be on board with the change.

Other changes included an additional $50,000 worth of salary savings from teacher retirements. Originally, the board had budgeted for $300,000 worth of savings due to retirements, but the total savings ended up being $350,000, hence the additional $50,000.

Another $50,000 in savings came from keeping the fee to participate in band and strings, which the board had hoped to do away with. Other cuts included reducing the amount spent on teaching supplies and office supplies by 10 percent.

Near the end of the roughly hour-long discussion on the cuts, board member Tim Gallo applauded everyone for their work.

“This is an amazing savings of over $2 million and it looks like we have done it in a way that has impacted the children as minimally as possible,” he said.