The buck doesn't stop at the mayor's office in Ansonia, at least according to the mayor.
Mayor David Cassetti blamed Superintendent Carol Merlone and the Board of Education for the city's school budget crisis.
"Instead of having an intellectually honest discussion with my administration, the superintendent and her board have chosen to bring this issue to the courts at the taxpayers’ expense and sensationalize this matter by spreading misinformation throughout our community," Cassetti said in a news release. "While we are all entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts."
The school district is suing the city to get back $600,000 that was removed from its budget by the city.
Without that money, the district said it will have to close public schools before the school year is supposed to end.
The money was supposed to be returned once state grants arrived; however, the state dealt with its own budget issues.
"As we all know, the State of Connecticut created a problem for the cities and towns by failing to adopt a timely budget and by projecting substantial cuts to our community," Cassetti said. "In the face of this problem, my administration stepped up to assist the school district by adding $600,000 to offset the anticipated grant cuts from the state."
However, adjustments had to be made to Ansonia's city budget.
"Let me be clear," Cassetti said. "The city did not reduce the school district’s budget. On the contrary, the school district received more than $800,000 over that which was anticipated. The modified budget simply takes into account the substantial amount of state aid that was unanticipated."
Cassetti argues that Merlone knows the city acted properly.
He also believes teachers will be paid and the schools will remain open.
"The truth is that the superintendent has refused to provide the city with information to support her claim that the school district will actually run out of money," he said. "The city has made every effort to bring this matter to a reasonable conclusion. Just [Thursday], my comptroller made several attempts to communicate with the Board of Education, but his calls were not returned."
Cassetti said the city's lawyers will be going to court on Friday to seek a court order to obtain public information.
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