“Our members did not agree to furloughs in order for the district to realize a surplus,” Stratford Education Association President Michael Fiorello told Board of Education members at a meeting last night that had to be moved to the high school cafeteria due to the high turnout of union members wearing #redfored.
Fiorello was speaking on behalf of all unions working in the Stratford Public Schools, including those representing nurses, classroom instructional assistants, administrators, secretaries, custodians, and more. Board of Education employees accepted two unpaid furlough days and other concessions last school year at great personal cost only to learn in a February 2019 audit report that the district ended the 2018 fiscal year with a $1.659 million surplus.
Fiorello said that union members accepted the furlough days and concessions “with the understanding that such give-backs were absolutely necessary to realize $700,000 in savings to fill a budget shortfall. This audit report raises questions about the accuracy of the alleged budget shortfall and the austerity budget information presented as hard fact in negotiations over the furlough days.”
Before last night there had been no public discussion by the Board of Education or the Town Council about the audit report or the surplus. Last night’s meeting was held only at the urging of union members.
Stratford Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson has agreed to meet with union leaders in May to discuss the district’s finances and compensation for the furlough days.