School board passes budget

The school board has approved its 2013-14 funding proposal, making only about $40,000 in revisions to Superintendent Ralph Iassogna's original $95.7-million package before passing it by a unanimous 5-0 vote.

"The only changes we made were to add districtwide Wi-Fi to the operating budget and to remove some additional Smart Boards from the operating budget and place them into a three-year technology bond," said school board member Tom Kelly.

Wi-Fi, which enables people to access the Internet and email wirelessly from anywhere in the buildings, is a necessity in the 21st Century, Kelly said.

"This is 2013, this is the world we live in," Kelly said. "We need to recognize how far behind Trumbull schools had become in technology. This budget remedies that."

Kelly said the budget reflects the current economy and the desire to maintain the system's quality. He said the only major change he wished the budget included was a proposal he made to transfer $375,000 from the salary account to a "School Safety" account.

"The other members decided to wait and see if the state would make money available for security upgrades," Kelly said. "The feeling was that it was too early in the process to make such an aggressive move."

Fellow board member Deborah Herbst credited Kelly with being forward-thinking on the school safety issue.

"It was very appropriate to bring it to the table; we all want to do the right thing to protect the children," she said. "But it looks like municipalities may be getting state money sooner rather than later, so we'll have to see."

Herbst called the budget proposal "reasonable" and said she was happy to see the priority on technology upgrades. She also said it was telling that the board, split 5-2 between Democrats and Republicans, approved it by a unanimous 5-0 vote, with Democrat Lisa Labella and Republican Loretta Chory absent.

"We're all on the same page," she said. "I believe we're doing all right."

The budget now heads to First Selectman Timothy Herbst, who indicated he planned to make security upgrades at the town level.

"Capital improvements are something we'll really need to take a hard look at," he said.

He said he would have liked the school budget proposal to be a little lower and pointed out that the board had not yet spent its surplus from last year, which is an area of potential savings, he said.

"The school board is definitely moving in the right direction," he said. "Last year the proposed increase was in the fives, this year it started with a four, so that's progress."