Parents and students express concerns on proposed Hartford school budget

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HARTFORD – The Hartford Board of Education has been mulling over big cuts to the school system.

A public hearing was held Tuesday night where concerned parents and teachers faced the superintendent to express their worries.

People attended the hearing with hopes to get more answers on how the proposed budget will affect their children. However, they walked out with their questions unanswered as the Board of Education adjourned the hearing right after public comment wrapped up.

“That is not the reality that Hartford is living in,” said Superintendent Leslie Torres.

That was the message Torres sent to all parents and students; the proposed  cuts would not be replaced by what she called “shiny” things and instead, the focus will be shifted to the essentials.

Students at the Hartford Adult Education Center say they cannot afford to lose more teachers.

“If they cut our teachers, we won’t be able to learn more at school and that’s not good and I want to learn more and it’s like when we leave school, we want a good paying job,” said Samoy Stewart who is a student there.

“I’m there two semesters now and reason being, there’s not enough teachers, so we only have two part-time teachers,” said Nickesha Turtua.

In order to address the short-term problem, Dr. Torres’ recommended budget has reduced the $26.5 million gap for fiscal year 2018 to under $3 million.

This means approximately 80 positions will be cut and 30 to 35 of them will be teachers.

Dr. Torres added, “We are being mindful as to the impact on our students and we’re looking at mitigating schedules, if you will. The changes that we’re proposing were being mindful to how we’re minimizing the impact on our students.”

The city still has to approve their budget by the end of this month. The Board of Education’s budget is still up for discussion and it must be adopted first before changes can be implemented.