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Darien Parents Rally for School Spending

Darien parents showed up in overwhelming numbers to a Board of Finance public hearing Tuesday night to show their support for the budget proposed by the Board of Education for the 2011-12 school year. Parents spoke up about rising enrollment and decreased spending on technology and asked the Board of Finance not to decrease the school budget any further.

"Enrollment growth has outpaced all our neighbors and left us spending to support increased enrollment while some neighboring towns are contemplating closing schools," said Tammy Sload, co-chair of the Council of Darien School Parents . "Most importantly, we have not increased the number of teachers as enrollment has grown."

Sload and other parents stressed that the school system could not cut any more out of its budget and maintain the high-quality education that students in Darien receive.

Nick Branca, a Darien parent, asked the board to consider increasing the school budget, saying he was shocked that schools relied on the Darien Technology & Community Foundation to donate computers. He also said increasing class sizes was lowering the quality of education.

"The only slightly twisted and positive outcome of the declining educational system is that internal talk is slowly turning to how Darien education is falling behind," Branca said.

Jim McIlree was the only voice not supporting the increased school budget, pointing out that spending is increasing at a much higher rate than enrollment. "I, too, support high quality education, but I feel fiscal discipline is essential. And the numbers suggest that fiscal discipline is lacking."

Though the meeting was to discuss the Board of Education's budget and the town's operating budget, the only speakers who did not discuss school spending were students representing the Depot who updated the town on their activities.

Do you think that the Board of Education's budget for next year is a sound investment for the town, or do you think reductions need to be made? Join the conversation in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter .

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