The Board of Finance voted 4 to 3 to support the Board of Selectmen's May 19 decision to move $60,000 from the Youth Services Reserve Fund to the school operating budget to hire a school social worker next year.
BofF Chair Mike O'Brien said the board agreed unanimously that a social worker is necessary. "It's really not only for students and development, but also families... It's a very special need the town has."
This allocation would cover hiring the social worker for one year, with benefits paid by the school. After one year, there will be an attempt to pay for the position with Board of Education or district funds. Superintendent of Schools Jerome Belair said school officials have not yet determined if they need to cut one kindergarten class next year due to falling numbers. The cut would free funds for the social worker.
First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said 22 new student cases have been sent to the town social worker since January and that there is a clear need for the position.
For the past three years, the town has relied on a private contractor, Kids in Crisis, for these services, but that program was recently cut from the budget.
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