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This letter expresses concerns about the recent budget discussions involving the Sharon Board of Education (BOE) and the Board of Finance (BOF).

The BOE’s failure to identify efficiencies or savings at the beginning of their budget cycle is troubling, especially considering that the only reason the budget may be lower this year is due to savings in the Region 1 budget, not in the local Sharon Center School budget. A flat budget does not indicate savings.

It is important to note that the Net Current Expenditure Per Pupil (NCEP) in Sharon, for the 2021-2022 school year is $53,217, according to the document provided by the Connecticut State Department of Education. This figure highlights the significant investment made in our student’s education and reveals that Sharon has the highest NCEP in Connecticut. The extremely high NCEP makes it even more crucial that the school board consistently looks for saving and efficiencies every budget cycle. Sharon Center School’s consistent drop in resident students means the BOE review, while lowering the budget and asking the Commissioner of the Department of Education for reductions, is crucial.

It is equally alarming that the BOE is only now researching efficiencies after a town hearing and the board of finance’s imposition of stipulations for budget approval. One cannot help but wonder why these potential savings and efficiencies were not explored and identified earlier in the process. The Board of Education’s apparent lack of initiative is concerning. It suggests a disregard for the responsible use of taxpayer money and the importance of maintaining a balanced budget for our community.

Moreover, the BOE has not provided quotes for roof leak repairs nor requested additional funding for this issue. As elected officials, it is their responsibility to ensure that our schools are safe and well-maintained. Their apparent lack of urgency on this matter raises questions about their commitment to the welfare of our students and the efficient use of taxpayer money.

Our local government must operate with transparency and accountability. Unfortunately, the school board’s actions, or lack thereof, seem to be hindering this process. It is disheartening to hear that some members complain about additional meetings, stating they “have lives, too.” However, elected officials must serve the public, which may require attending more meetings than they initially anticipated. If this becomes a burden for them, perhaps they should reconsider their positions and make way for new members more dedicated to the task.

It is time for a change on the Sharon Board of Education. Sharon needs officials dedicated to providing accurate and truthful information, prioritizing the needs of our schools, and working collaboratively with other boards to ensure the best outcomes for our community.

In addition, given that Sharon has the highest NCEP in the state, it is even more critical that we have a board of education committed to transparency, efficiency, and accountability. If the current BOE members are unwilling or unable to meet these expectations, then it is time for them to step aside and allow new blood to take the helm.

Cody O’Kelly lives in Sharon.