The Hartford Board of Education this week approved a diminished Fiscal 2017 budget scratched out of the bare State and City cupboard scraps for an outcome that satisfied no one.  It cut 235 positions, leaving the number of actual layoffs hinging on a future of how many staff members happen to be retiring or moving elsewhere this summer.

Happenstance may be the theme of the Fiscal 2017 budget process, but that’s no way to run a railroad, unless you don’t mind railroading equity, again the story line.

Monday’s budget adoption meeting at 11 a.m. in the superintendent’s conference room was announced on Friday, too short a notice in some public eyes (the full video is here).  The Board eventually approved the budget with a 6-2 vote (with Robert Cotto, Jr., and Craig Stallings opposed) and thus moved things along.  Clearly, however, for the District staff, Board members, and handful of community representatives present, this budget was a crying shame.

Board Member Stallings said he was heartbroken at how the budget could negatively impact kids in the future,as the Courant reported; others simply found themselves totally lost as to where to find leverage to fight for Hartford children.

The Bottom Line.  This year, because the budget numbers have so frequently been recalculated, no School Governance Council budget sign-off sheets were gathered.

Regardless of what the District had to wait for from the City to finalize its budget, however, the moment we stop asking SGCs to carry out their advisory duty with respect to the budgetary decisions that represent the priorities of their school … is the moment we basically stop using SGCs.

They don’t take on many other duties in Hartford, other than approving the budget and vetting principal candidates.  And with the SGC membership compliance data released this week by HPS (and included in our separate article), it is clear to us that “Houston, we have a problem.”

School governance in Hartford is a major issue for anyone who believes this strategy to be necessary for sustaining school improvement efforts.  Achieve Hartford! will be looking into this issue and trying to find ways to be helpful.