DANBURY -- Head Start got much of the money it asked for in this year's education budget, but the federal, state and local preschool program will receive less city funding over the next three years.
That goal was adopted as part of the Board of Education's 2012-13 spending plan.
The board approved its final $115.7 million budget in a 6-4 vote Wednesday night, with the opposing votes in favor of redirecting Head Start's allocation to K-12 classrooms.
The board reduced the Head Start request of $585,000 by $50,000 and plans to continue to reduce it over three years to about $292,000.
Board member Sandy Steichen, who voted against the plan, sent a letter to board Chairman Gladys Cooper and Superintendent Sal Pascarella on Thursday asking for a re-vote, since she thought Roberts Rules of Order were not followed at the meeting.
Pascarella said would look into the matter.
"I felt we were being pressured," Steichen said, noting she was unable to change motions and others were not allowed to ask questions.
"Listening to Superintendent Sal Pascarella last night, I heard that, given the increase in ECS (state aid) and a $1.7 million additional grant, we will be able to start adding back to the classroom what they (opposing board members) feel are important,'' Cooper said Thursday.
Steichen said the school district has received few increases to its budget for the past three years, but it fully funded increases to Head Start.
"That money could have been used for all-day kindergarten and (paraprofessionals)," she said, not just for helping the 290 children served by the Head Start program, which she believes spends too much on salaries.
She said the poorest children benefit from Head Start and will benefit from programs funded with a projected $1.7 million state grant to help struggling students, but middle-income children are not getting what they need for their classrooms.
Taborsak said the budget involved tough decisions and not enough money.
"To me, this is the best-case scenario, based on the one we pay as the expert," Taborsak said, referring to Pascarella. "It's not the perfect budget, but I'm going to support it."
Fluseky-Latin said if children attend the quality Head Start preschool program, and then go to what she thinks is a weakened kindergarten -- half day and without teacher aides -- they will regress, losing the benefits of the preschool program.
Several city kindergarten teachers also asked the board Wednesday to restore the 16 teacher aides the board eliminated from kindergarten classes during budget negotiations two years ago.
Pascarella said the district's three-year plan to phase in full-day kindergarten starts next fall, but to implement it across the city, the district must build additions to three schools, which are in the works.
The plan cuts $160,000 from the budget for computers, based on the city's plan to call for a bond to cover its long-range technology needs.