Can the relationship between the town and its educators be mended? That remains to be seen after Tuesday night\u2019s Board of Education meeting where more than a dozen Trumbull teachers spoke during a public comment period to voice their dissatisfaction with the first selectman\u2019s 2016-17 proposed budget that claims savings of $3 million by making a change to the health care plan for all the employees under the Board of Education requiring them to participate in the Connecticut Partnership Plan 2.0. Trumbull Education Association co-presidents Jane Kluspes and Tammy Baillargeon and Trumbull Administrators President Jacqueline Norcel spoke first during the public comment period at the Feb. 16 meeting. \u201cIt is with sadness that we come to address you this evening,\u201d Kluspes told the board. \u201cOne and two years ago our members entered into good faith negotiations with the Board of Education. The end result was an agreement that binds both parties for a three-year period. Neither side got all that they wanted but both sides respect the process and support the result \u2014 that is how it should be. \u201cOn Feb. 2, the Board of Education voted five to two to impose a new health benefit plan on our members,\u201d she continued. \u201cOur members and their representatives were given insufficient time to study this proposal, virtually no opportunity to look at alternatives or determine if this new plan met the criteria set forth in our collective bargaining agreement.\u201d Kluspes added that the TEA, which represents all Trumbull teachers, is willing to work with the board, as well as other members of Trumbull\u2019s town government, to find cost-effective methods of delivering the terms of the agreement. \u201cAs many of our members are residents and taxpayers of Trumbull, we recognize that encouraging savings whenever possible is in all of our best interests,\u201d she said. \u201cWe teach our students that the end never justifies the means,\u201d she told the board. \u201cThe process being employed here is flawed. The board has no right to potentially change the agreement entered into in good faith without first acting in good faith consistent with the agreement.\u201d Kluspes said she was disgruntled because she wasn\u2019t given the time to study the proposal and insure that any potential issues were ironed out before action was taken. \u201cThis would have been the fair way to proceed,\u201d she said. As a result of the breakdown, all six of the bargaining units under the Board of Education have already filed a grievance against the change in the health care program, leaving the benefits switch without any support from educators. \u201cWe had no choice but to file grievances to protect the rights of our members,\u201d the TEA co-presidents said in their comments to the board. \u201cAll of this could have been avoided had the process been done in the proper manner. We urge the Board of Education to step back and sit down with us, as should have been done in the first place. \u201cLet\u2019s not create controversy that will only divide and hurt our community,\u201d Kluspes added. \u201cLet\u2019s work together to do the right thing the right way.\u201d Teachers chime in Following Baillargeon, Kluspes and Norcel, the board heard from several teachers who echoed the TEA stance that the board voted on a new plan without giving their representatives a chance to review the contract. \u201cAs a teacher in the Trumbull school system, I am disappointed by the lack of concern shown me and my fellow teachers when the Board of Education voted to impose a new health benefit plan on us without the courtesy of giving our representatives the opportunity to make sure this proposal met the criteria of our contract,\u201d one teacher said. \u201cEvery one of us is in favor of saving money,\u201d she added. \u201cEvery one of us wants to show respect to the taxpayers of Trumbull by working toward cost-effective ways of implementing our contract. That is just good sense. \u201cHowever, we entered into the contract in good faith and we act in good faith every day by respecting the terms and conditions of that contract. I respectfully ask that you do the same. In this case, it means sitting down with our representatives to discuss this proposal. If it meets contract requirements, great, but if there are areas of concern, those should be addressed before we go forward. \u201cIf we act with respect toward one another we can achieve a good result for everyone.\u201d Board reaction After the meeting, Board of Education Chairwoman Loretta Chory and Republican board member Paul Lavoie commented that the $3 million in anticipated savings compelled the board to make the decision to change the health care plan.They said they are confident that the new plan will be determined to be the equivalent in serving the needs of the education employees of Trumbull. First Selectman Tim Herbst delivered the proposed budget on Trumbull Community TV Feb. 10. He summarized the $163.4-million budget \u2014 a proposal that could lower Trumbull\u2019s mill rate from the current 32.87 to 32.77 \u2014 as one that would \u201creduce spending, stabilize our taxes, grow our economy, and continue to improve a nationally recognized school system\u201d and \u201cmakes meaningful investments in public safety and also continues to fund and improve vital town services.\u201d \u201cWith all of these investments, overall expenditures have increased a modest 1.87%,\u201d Herbst added. \u201cThis will likely lead to a reduction in residential property taxes.\u201d But a critical component of the budget is the projected $3-million health care savings. The first selectman stated that \u201cafter examining critical data and with careful deliberation, it has been determined that the town of Trumbull and the Trumbull Board of Education will realize savings of $3 million by participating in the state health care system. \u201cThe state health care system has been met with favorable reaction from our collective bargaining units, and the savings realized will allow our town to hold expense levels in check,\u201d Herbst said. Disruption analysis However, that \u201cfavorable reaction\u201d hasn\u2019t been found among teachers and the TEA, as evidenced by the grievance filed before the Feb. 10 presentation. The current collective bargaining agreement between the Town of Trumbull and the TEA provides for a change in the insurance plan under Article 7, Section 1.7, which states: \u201cIn the event the Board decides to change carriers during the term of this agreement or to self-insure in whole or in part, the Board will provide the same coverage described above or their equivalent and will give the association notice of its decision at least thirty (30) days in advance of its implementation.\u201d The TEA has requested that an insurance consultant conduct a disruption analysis to determine if changing the health care system violates the teachers\u2019 collective bargaining agreement. The board has done its own disruption analysis on the plan, but had yet to share it with the teachers as of press time Wednesday.