Hartford’s school budget leaves a $2 million hole

Hartford's school budget leaves a $2 million hole
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 5:55 PM EDT
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - There is a battle over the budget for Hartford Public Schools.

The board of education recently approved a new budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Even after some mitigations, the district still has a $2 million hole to fill.

There will not be any layoffs, but some vacant positions will be eliminated.

Parents said they’re concerned about what this means for the future.

“The one thing that’s really prevalent is the emotional needs of students in this current moment,” said T’Challa Williams.

Williams is a mother of six and graduate of Hartford Public Schools.

She has concerns about what the new budget means for the district.

“This is ugly. It’s ugly, we in it and we gotta fix it and the first thing we have to do is be honest and transparent,” Williams said.

Last week, the board of education approved a roughly $429 million budget for the 2023 to 2024 school year.

The district was working through a $24 million deficit. But with mitigations, the school district is now looking at a $2 million hole.

“Currently where we stand we do have a hiring freeze and there are very specific carve outs in that freeze and that is not impacting any of our classroom positions or any instructional support staff,” said Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools.

Torres-Rodriguez said some vacant positions that don’t impact classrooms will be cut.

“It’s every other position that does not have direct impact on the instructional experience of our students,” Torres-Rodriguez said.

To make up for the deficit, the school district may also cut certain platforms.

Channel 3 spoke with Hartford City Councilman Josh Michtom about the budget.

“I just hope that folks will see that this is city council’s responsibility, that we do need to tackle it in the budget. If we end up with a circumstance where the teacher student ratios increase, where services decrease, that’s on us and people should blame us,” said Michtom, with the Working Families Party.

The Hartford Public School District has about 17,000 students.

“I love my city, I was born and raised here. But what I can’t allow us to do is fail the community or children or the people who live here. There is so much going on,” said Williams.

The Hartford City Council begins budget negotiations next month.

Battle over Hartford school budget