Torrington pushes back first day of school due to state budget crisis

TORRINGTON --  Connecticut is now four weeks past the start of the fiscal year and continues to work without a budget.

The lack of a budget has meant a growing burden on local municipalities who rely on state funds to operate. The burden is also becoming a growing concern for school districts across the state.

“Without a state budget, those grants from the state are in doubt and many communities have had to assume that they will not be receiving those funds,” Patrice McCarthy, of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education said.

She explained cities and towns often depend on state funds to run their school budgets.

“The Lack of a state budget, the uncertainty increases with each passing day as we get closer to the beginning of the school year, boards and their municipal officials are forced to make very difficult decisions,” McCarthy said.

Torrington is the latest town to have to make one of those tough decisions. The city’s Board of Education voted this week to push back the start date of the first day of school.

Superintendent of Schools, Denise Clemons, told FOX61 the decision was intended as a means to avoid having to make staff cuts. She said state budget troubles have delayed a cash flow into the city in other areas, but they expect to be caught up enough to pay teachers and school staff if the school year starts roughly a week later than originally planned.

McCarthy said Torrington is not alone in these kinds of decisions and that other school districts may be dealing with the budget struggles in other capacities.

“So many have eliminated staff, they have eliminated key services such as social workers to intervene with struggling students, tutoring services, summer programs all in an effort to contain their costs,” McCarthy said.

She added that for some districts who need to cut staff it will likely mean larger class sizes for students. Torrington’s Superintendent said they expect to have a decision on what the new school year start date will be by early next week.