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Increased Prices Puts Squeeze on Schools
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The rising cost of energy is having a serious impact on local school budgets in Connecticut.

School officials are grappling with the effects of rising prices-with everything from bus transportation to school lunches feeling the squeeze.  Speaking on WNPR’s Where We Live, Patrice McCarthy, “Deputy Director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education,” says that because budgets are set by October of the previous year, schools across the state are now coming up short.

“So many districts are seeing  increases for energy that are 25 percent above what they had bud back in October, and food costs anywhere between five an fifteen percent higher.  Most districts did not receive increases at the local levels that would help cover even the cost of maintaining existing services this year so they’ve had to make cuts in their regular programs.”

But where to make those cuts?  The Bridgeport school district, for example, has seen a $720 per day increase in the cost of milk for school breakfasts and lunches.   Because most students are eligible for free lunches, Bridgeport cannot pass the cost along to them.

In Region 12, which includes Roxbury, Washington and Bridgewater, school officials budgeted for heating oil at $2.75 per gallon-a thirty four percent increase over what they were paying last year.  But instead, the price for heating oil is coming in much higher.  This could leave the budget short by $84,000 or more.    

McCarthy says she understands the frustration of taxpayers, who are seeing their own energy costs skyrocket:   

“The local budget is the only place they can speak out and say, “Stop I can’t bear any additional increases.” They can’t do that with respect to the state and federal budgets.”

McCarthy says the state needs to do more to help school districts cope with rising costs.