The Groton Board of Education has directed Interim Superintendent John Ramos to come up with a zero budget increase for the public schools next year.
It’s likely to mean significant program cuts if approved.
Ramos said he plans to tell the school board what the public schools need to keep current programs, then suggest a list of cuts to reduce the total.
“I’ve already directed staff to think about it is what we would consider for the chopping block to bring it down to zero,” Ramos said.
School Board Member Bob Peruzzotti said the board wants to find out what a zero increase would mean in practical terms; he said he won’t support cuts he finds unacceptable.
“There are going to be some things (that) I will not vote for if they get cut, I’ll tell you that right now,” he said.
The schools have had zero budget increases for the last three years. Jackie Massett, a member of Representative Town Meeting, said they can't do that anymore.
“Bottom line, piss and moan and complain about the budget, but education is for kids. And our kids are suffering as is evidenced by test scores,” she said.
She added that kids are feeling it in the classroom, including her granddaughter who takes art at Fitch High School.
“I find it totally, totally unacceptable for the teacher to say, ‘You have to mix your oil paint with water because it needs to stretch’, ” she said. Massett made the comments during a liaison committee meeting last week of members of the Board of Education, Town Council and RTM.
Groton is facing increased costs in three areas that will likely force cuts elsewhere in education: A projected 9 percent increase in health care costs, a negotiated wage increase with teachers and a redistricting plan that would require additional spending on transportation.