By Josh LaBella
The West Haven Board of Education voted unanimously for Superintendent Neil Cavallaro’s recommended budget and his advisement to approve Dana Parades as the principal of West Haven High School.
Their meeting room was nearly filled and there was much applause when the board voted to instate Parades as the official principal of the high school. A West Haven native, Parades had served as the acting principal since October.
Board member Jim Morrissey called Parades “a true Westie through and through” before the vote to confirm her nomination. He said anytime he has had questions or concerns Parades had a good answer.
“You’re thought of tremendously by the staff and the students,” said Morrissey before the vote. “My oldest daughter had you as a teacher her freshman year and she loved you. I’m so proud to make you principal tonight of West Haven High school.”
The 2019-2020 educational budget, which was approved by the board and now needs approval from the city council, saw an increase of 1.33 percent, or $1,240,000 from the year before. The $91 million budget saw increases via contractual raises, benefits, and operations costs. One issue the superintendent said needed to be addressed was the degradation of the maintenance fleet.
Chris Everone, supervisor of facilities for West Haven public schools, said they have stopped using two vehicles which tradesmen drive because they were no longer safe. He said the plow trucks are in “okay” shape but he would like to replace them down the road.
“I think the everyday trade vehicles are what we’re looking to replace,” said Everone, “just to keep our workers safe when driving.”
Cavallaro said they were looking to buy the vehicles outright. Board member Patrick Leigh said he would like to see a cost analysis to see if leasing a vehicle would be cheaper. Cavallaro said nothing was set in stone until the final budget is passed.
In reference to the fleet, Cavallaro questioned how much more money they should put into things that have outlived their usefulness. He said the budget was austere and that 2019 was the year they are making their case.
“Regardless of what we can get, we can do something,” said Cavallaro. “Where do we want to be in five or ten years? I think we’ve had that discussion before and that’s something we need to look at. That’s not to say we can get everything at once. But it’s time to put a plan in place and start fixing and repairing.”
“If we get two [vehicles] out of this now, I think that’s a home run for us,” said Everone. “If we could replace a couple each year. We’re not looking to do the whole fleet at once. It’s not feasible.”
The budget also included funds for seven new security guards, one at Harry M. Bailey School and one at each elementary school. The budget noted this was a part of their continuing effort to create a safe environment at their schools. It also laid out funds for increasing technology in the K-8 grade levels.
Board member Robert Guthrie said the 1.33 percent increase was an incredibly responsible budget. Mayor Nancy said the MARB told her they will be requesting a more in-depth view of the board of education budget this year.