As the debate in town continues over Superintendent Dr. Alan Addley's proposed $121.5 million '24/25 budget, which includes the expansion of his administrative staff (two additional assistant principals) and the elimination of the World Languages department chair and the equivalent of eight full-time teachers, it is important to note what is not explicitly in his proposal.
Despite these initiatives being a core part of DPS's Vision of the Graduate, there are no specific line items for Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives including the RULER program which is used heavily in multiple schools.
Last year's budget had $1,817,285 in direct "guidance" and "psychologist" personnel expenses that were not included in the Special Education RC-24 line items. Can the Board or the Administration provide an estimate for the all in-cost of SEL and DEI expenditures to students not in need of an IEP or special education services? If parents don't know the actual fiscal input of these controversial and concerning initiatives, how are we expected to know if the outputs are worth the cost? In our view, there is little transparency on these topics and the true costs of these programs are intentionally hidden in the shadow of other budget items.
In the BOE's 1/16/24 Questions, the following is included: "SEL / Ruler - can you please provide the top 5 largest individual expenditures related to SEL / Ruler?" However, is this enough information for the Board to make educated decisions if taxpayer money is being spent wisely and the targeted results are actually being achieved? The BOE's role is oversight and we believe further vetting of these large expenditures is even more important with proposed teacher cuts on the table. How could any individual BOE member vote for a budget without knowing the true costs of SEL, DEI, and RULER? In our view, it would be a dereliction of their duty and a betrayal to the community if they did vote for a budget without knowing these important details.
A recent CT Examiner article highlighted some other noteworthy items related to the budget (emphasis ours):
Call to action! Are you concerned about the lack of transparency in the budget? If so, email the Board before their final vote on February 13th! Every voice matters.