Ansonia Public Schools vote to stay open amid budget issues - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Ansonia Public Schools vote to stay open amid budget issues

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A battle over thousands of dollars may result in public schools closing early this year. This photo was taken during a past school board meeting. (WFSB file) A battle over thousands of dollars may result in public schools closing early this year. This photo was taken during a past school board meeting. (WFSB file)
ANSONIA, CT (WFSB) -

The Board of Education in Ansonia voted to keep the schools open amid budget issues. 

On Tuesday, the district said public schools could close early because of a lack of funding, according to school officials.

Superintendent Carol Merlone addressed what she's calling a "financial insolvency" during a news conference on Tuesday.

At the board of education meeting, the district said that schools will remain open until June 12. 

On June 12, there will be a hearing at Derby Superior Court to decide the outcome of the rest of the school year. 

Officials said paychecks for staff are going to bounce because the Board of Education cant meet payroll. 

"With the $600,000 taken from us, we cannot afford to keep our doors open, so I have to ask everyone, where is our moral obligation to educate our kids," said Merlone. 

An informational meeting for parents was held at 8 p.m. at the Ansonia High School Auditorium.

With only another week guaranteed, things like finals and graduation could still be up in the air. 

School officials say as of now, graduation is still on. 

According to the school system's website, both will address the current school year budget and its potential impact on the remainder of the school year.

It has been reported that the town was involved in a budget battle with the school district over some $600,000.

The town said it initially gave the money to the district, but then needed it back to cover emergency services. It said the problem stems from when the state had been operating without a statewide budget and as a result, school funding suffered.

"I just want to know what was going on, why are they closing school early. It's like last minute too, especially with child care, got to go to work," said Nancy Gonzalez, a parent. 

"I would like everyone to know, especially you Mr. Mayor, that this is not a bluff, this is serious. This is not about the Board of Ed having extra money, it's about the Board of Ed meeting obligational expenses," said Merlone. 

The $31.8 million budget was approved last year, but in January, the city's Board of Aldermen voted to remove $600,000. The school district is now suing the city to get that money back. 

The city argues it gave the Board of Education extra money anticipating a shortfall in state money, and is well within its rights to take the money back because the school district eventually received more state aide than originally anticipated. 

The district said they may have had to close on Wednesday, but that would have been in violation of the state's rules because they would have failed to meet the minimum 180-day requirement. 

“This is a bullying tactic and I intend on calling the state on them because I don’t believe they should close school down, for 1 week, you’re that short.  Maybe you should have called us back in February and said hey listen, if you don’t give us this money by the 2nd week of June, we’re not going to have any money left.  They didn’t do that, they did it last minute, it's a bullying tactic," said Mayor David Cassetti. 

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