TOLLAND — With no state budget in sight and the first day of school just around the corner, local education officials across Connecticut have taken severe steps to cut costs, hoping more draconian efforts won’t be necessary.
At least one district, Torrington, has delayed the opening day of school to conserve cash as long as possible. In Tolland, 15 teachers and staff have been laid off, but officials fear that number could climb to as many as 40. Other districts have delayed hiring non-tenured teachers and ordering books and supplies, put off repairs and frozen non-payroll expenses.
“We took these jobs to serve children in the community, and this is making it hard to do that without hurting them,” a dejected Tolland Superintendent of Schools Walter Willett said last week, hours after he informed a staff member she was losing her job.
Connecticut has been limping along without a state budget since July 1, the first day of the new fiscal year. Lawmakers have been unable to agree on a new two-year plan the governor will sign that will cover a projected $3.5 billion deficit.
The impasse has forced local officials to speculate as to how much state aid they can expect once a budget is finally in place. Those guesses have been based on a number of competing state budget proposals, including Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s plan, which shifts a lot of state education aid from wealthier communities to poorer communities.
Patrice McCarthy, deputy director and general counsel at the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, noted previous state budget impasses in 1991 and 2009. But this year, she said, is much worse for…
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