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New London -- Parents turned out in force Monday before a public hearing on the budget, demanding the City Council put the city's school children first.
"We are parents, board members, teachers, members of the community, and we have come to let our voices be heard,'' said Mongi Dhaouadi, a parent of three children in the New London school district who organized the rally. "We thought parents' voices have been absent from the discussion. But we made a call....
Parents in New London do care about the education of their kids."
More than 150 people gathered on the steps of New London High School prior to the 6 p.m. finance meeting inside the school auditorium.
Parents complained that the council has in effect flat-funded the school district for years, and argued for more money to keep improving the schools.
"We are making progress in New London,'' said Kathy Skrabacz, the parent of four children who attend New London schools. "We are tired of hearing all the negative."
Last week, the City Council proposed a 2012-13 budget for schools which is about $800,000 more than the current budget of $39.8 million. The school board also will have some funds to spend on students and programs because the city is taking over the district's business office. Estimates on the savings to the school
district are between $180,000 and $500,000.
The council approved an education spending package of $40.6 million. The Board of Education had requested $42.9 million, about a six percent increase. The mayor reduced the request to $41 million, about a 3 percent increase.
Sixty-eight teachers and staff members were put on notice last month that they could be laid off. The school district is required by the state to notify all non-tenured and non-contract employees of possible layoffs.
Parents at the rally proceeded inside the auditorium where they signed up to speak before the City Council and Finance Board.