To the Editor,
An article published in The Bristol Press on May 15, announcing Ellen Zoppo-Sassu’s candidacy for mayor, contained the following quote from her: “I’m done going to the Board of Finance meetings and asking for money for education.”
At the end of the 2015-2016 school year, the Board of Education went to the Board of Finance to inform them that they had a deficit of a little over $2 million related to special education costs. A recommendation was made that a separate fund be set up for special education to better monitor expenses. The Board of Education chose not to, and were back this year before the Board of Finance with a deficit of nearly $2.5 million relating to special education. The Board of Education claimed that no one on that board, or anyone else involved, noticed the deficit or could explain how it occurred. The Education Department consumes the largest share of the taxpayer dollars and is headed by the highest paid employee of the city. The Board of Education is supposed to oversee the budget and to both insure the best education it can for the city’s students as well as being fiscally accountable to the taxpayers. It would appear they are having some problems in this regard.
Meanwhile, due to the performance of the Board of Finance, Bristol has a pension fund that is fully funded, a decent rainy day reserve, and excellent bond ratings. While sometimes criticized, the Board of Finance has proved themselves to be responsible overseers of the city’s finances.
What the taxpayers need to know from Zoppo-Sassu before the November elections is what was meant by her statement. If it was accurate as reported, then we need a fully detailed and comprehensive explanation on just how she would fund education while being fiscally responsible with taxpayer’s dollars. Talking points are not enough.