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War of words between superintendent, mayor over blame for Ansonia budget problem

New Haven

There’s a war of words in Ansonia between the superintendent and the mayor.

The battle is over $600,000 that the superintendent says the mayor gave — then took –from schools.
Without that money, Superintendent Carol Merlone said the district may have to end the school year early because there aren’t enough funds to pay salaries, for instance.

On Friday, the fight over finances heated up downtown, with a new voice supporting the school district in this battle.

“Long story short, what’s happening is that the city has misspent it’s finances,” said Javier Arguello.

His scathing post about mayor David Cassetti’s administration hit social media. It’s gotten more than 1,000 views.

But this issue is so touchy here, that parents he talked to downtown today didn’t want their faces shown on camera.

“In the beginning of the fiscal year, the city and the Board of Education decided that there was going to be a $600,000 shortfall for all-day kindergarten. All of the experts, the board of education included, anticipated to not receive the funding,” Arguello said.

Arguello said the state was having financial problems up until January, and that funding should have been shifted from an unrestricted basis to a restricted one, based on the Educational Cost Sharing Program.

“What ends up happening is that the city, which had previously banked on taking funds from the unrestricted grant that the state of Connecticut provides, and to take that back and put it in the fund. The reason they needed to do that is because the city spent $4 million almost between fiscal 2016 and 17 of undesignated reserve fund balances,” Arguello said.

“That is a complete falsehood,” said Mayor David Cassetti.

The mayor says there was an agreement with the Board of Education that the city would give $600,000 to the board if the state did not come through with alliance district grant money for Ansonia schools, but it did.

The mayor hit social media today furthering his fury against Superintendent Carol Merlone.

The mayor posted this on Facebook:

“Instead of having an intellectually honest discussion with my administration, the superintendent and her board have chosen to bring this issue to the courts at the taxpayers’s expense and sensationalize this matter by spreading misinformation throughout our community.”

Javier says he stands by the schools because he grew up in the Ansonia public school system – and says the education he received allowed him to attend — and graduate –from Georgetown. 

In his research, he produced records of meetings that he says supports his arguments.

But Mayor Cassetti is backing his own new statements made on social media.

“There was no mistake made at city hall. This is misinformation that the people are delegating to their people,” he said.

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