Cialfi requests $102.6 million for 2017-18

Superintendent Gary Cialfi
Superintendent Gary Cialfi

School Superintendent Gary Cialfi asked the Board of Education to take a prudent approach to school funding at his annual budget presentation, urging members to protect the investments the town has made in education.

“We have an enormous responsibility, an obligation to educate without compromising student needs,” Cialfi said. “This requires a commitment to inspire and motivate our students in a rigorous learning environment that includes support for social and emotional development.”

Cialfi’s proposed 2017-18 budget, at $102.6 million, represents a 3.78% increase over the current year’s $98-million package. He said he was confident that amount would satisfy the academic, social and emotional needs of the school district’s students, while also providing a safe and comfortable environment.

As part of his budget presentation, Cialfi provided a partial list of the honors and accolades Trumbull schools have received in recent years. The honors included being ranked a “Top 10” most desirable community based on school district by, a first-place award from the state association of boards of education for an innovative energy policy, nine Ivy League college acceptances last year, and Trumbull High being named a “School of Distinction” by the state Department of Education.

Cialfi said the accomplishments, which are listed over five pages in his executive budget summary, available online at, show that although education costs make up the largest allocation in any municipal budget, the board is delivering good value on the taxpayers’ investment.

As for the actual budget numbers, 93.3% of the total request is allocated for salaries, benefits and contractual obligations. These non-discretionary expenses make up $3.2 million of the $3.7 million proposed funding increase.

Some of that increase comes from the city of Bridgeport charging tuition for students to attend city magnet schools such as the Discovery Magnet School on Park Avenue and the Fairchild Wheeler Magnet School on Old Town Road. Trumbull currently sends 68 students to the Fairchild Wheeler School, and the tuition payments represent a new expense of about $288,000, or just under 9% of the proposed increase.

Other expenses and increases include two fifth grade Spanish teachers, a half-time SAT prep teacher, and a 2.2% salary increase for school staff.

With Cialfi having handed over his proposal, the board will now review it in detail before finalizing a number to send to First Selectman Tim Herbst in January. Herbst can revise the budget request before he, in turn, sends the proposal along to the Board of Finance and Town Council for their review and possible adjustments. Last year the school board passed a $99.9-million request and ended up receiving a $98.9-million allocation.