HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — School officials across Connecticut are making difficult decisions and possibly devastating cuts.
In Hamden, positions and athletic programming could be on the chopping block, but the superintendent of Hamden Public Schools shared some promising news about the district’s budget.
“We’re very confident we’ll be okay for next year,” Highsmith said. “It became $101,381,000 that the budget request was. When we looked at it, that gave us about a $9 million shortfall.”
The district was put in a pinch between pandemic-era funding running out, the bus transportation contract coming in higher, and inflation-boosting costs.
“Everything costs more,” Highsmith said. “It’s a difficult time.”
He said they’ve been able to close that gap by getting more from the general fund, grant money, and not expanding the middle school. He’s also hoping they’ll get money from the sale of Wintergreen School.
“We’ve been working with the town on an agreement to get $3 million from Wintergreen,” Highsmith said.
But that doesn’t cover everything. Highsmith said they’re looking at about $1.5 million in personnel cuts — about 35 positions. He stressed to News 8 that they’ll look at vacant, open spots.
“I don’t want to cut any positions at all,” Highsmith said. “But we have to be realistic about where we’re going. We’re going to have to take some of that pain and take it as far away from students as much as possible.”
He said the potential cuts include security, administrators and teachers, and middle school sports could also be impacted.
“We’re still talking about whether we’re going to go through with any cuts to middle school sports,” Highsmith said. “But we’re much better after the allocation on Thursday.”
Ultimately, Hamden Mayor Lauren Garrett gets the final sign-off on the budget.
“It’s just really important that we have a good working relationship, so we make sure we’re a cohesive team,” the Democrat said.