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Article Published March 31, 2021

Don’t Be Fooled

By Elizabeth Wilson

The proposed budget is being marketed to us as a 1.4 percent increase and the lowest education budget request in many years. Don’t be fooled. It is camouflaging a huge upward trend in educational spending.

Enrollment in Guilford schools declined 9.4 percent since 2014-’15 school year, when construction began on the new high school, and the superintendent is forecasting an additional decline of 3.6 percent for the upcoming year. This means that school enrollment will have declined 12.7 percent—431 fewer students—in eight years.

During this same time period, the spending per student will have increased 27.4 percent, more than twice the rate of inflation, going from $16,508 per student seven years ago to $21,023 this upcoming year. These figures do not include the cost of the new high school, which is on the town’s side of the budget under debt service.

The proposed budget brings Guilford’s cost per student to nine percent less than Darien’s spending per student. Guilford is not Darien, where the average house value is $1.4 million versus $418,000 here.

Lest any of us forget, we are in the middle of a pandemic and the worst economic crisis in the past 90 years. At the March 4 Board of Finance meeting, member Robert Hartmann, who runs a tax accounting firm, stated the number of his clients with unemployment claims tripled last year.

Since 2008, my taxes have increased 61 percent while the rate of inflation has been 22 percent. Taxes have increased almost three times the rate of inflation. How much have your readers’ taxes increased? They can check at Town Hall or on Zillow.

I encourage your readers to attend the Annual Budget Meeting on Tuesday, April 6 at 7:30 via Zoom and vote ‘No’ on the budget.

Elizabeth Wilson