Mayor Toni Harp said Friday she will not support the reappointment of New Haven Public Schools Superintendent Garth Harries ’95 unless he presents her with a balanced budget this spring.
“I haven’t made a decision about Garth Harries,” Harp said following an unrelated City Hall press conference Friday morning. “They must come in with a balanced budget.”
Harp added that she “understood” the concern of the Greater New Haven Clergy Association, a group that sent a letter this week to Harp calling for the replacement of Harries. In a letter signed by Reverend James Newman, members of the clergy said Harries lacked experience and and has failed to make change in the school district since he took the helm in July 2013.
Harp said she wants to make sure Harries can balance the budget before she can support his reappointment. She said she wants to delay the vote on Harries’ reappointment until May, at which point she will have had time to assess his ability to prepare a proper budget.
School Board President Carlos Torre told the New Haven Independent on Friday that such a delay would not be possible. He said the date of the vote — scheduled to take place by March 1 — is written into Harries’ contract.
If projections are accurate, Harp said, Harries has considerable work to do finding cost-saving measures. She said Board of Alders President Jorge Perez told her that the school district’s budget deficit could be as steep as $9 million. At least $4 million of that comes in annual deficits related to free-and-reduced-price lunches — when students who are eligible for the service are not properly signed up in advance.
“I don’t want to say I’m going to support him and then see we’re got a $9 million budget deficit,” Harp added.
Harp said she has not seen the Board of Education take great care concerning budgetary constraints at the two meetings she has attended thus far.