France is retiring at the end of the month.
It’s no secret he’s navigated Norwalk Schools through some troubled financial times — more than half of its 22 years without new funding from local taxpayers, to be exact.
As he departs, a slew of tough financial decisions await his permanent replacement.
Norwalk Schools is seeking recommendations from community members before any choices are made.
Administrators will host a community meeting tonight to map out its fiscal future. The meeting, which begins 6:30 p.m. at Norwalk High School, is an urgent response to voters rejecting the district’s most recent tax levy proposal in November.
The goal is to garner community input to determine where the district can find new revenue or make additional reductions to eliminate its deficit, superintendent Dennis Doughty said.
“I’d love to fill that place up,” Doughty said after announcing it this past month. “It’s going to take that kind of urgency”
The district has made staffing cuts for five straight years, and employees have gone without pay increases for four.
Nonetheless, it’s facing a nearly $1 million deficit in the upcoming school year, with a budget of about $24 million, according to its five-year financial forecast. It has been deficit spending for several years and is set to spend all of its reserve cash by 2017.
Voters haven’t approved an emergency operating levy for the district since 1991.
At Tuesday’s meeting, board members agreed to hire Betty Schwiefert as the district’s interim treasurer. She’ll be paid on a day-to-day basis, receiving $300 a day. She retired as North Point Educational Service Center’s treasurer in 2012.
Tuesday’s meeting concluded with a closed-door session to discuss the search for a permanent treasurer. Board members met with representatives from North Point Educational Service Center, who will assist the effort. No board action followed.