NAUGATUCK — Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke didn’t set out to put together a budget that wouldn’t increase spending, but that’s exactly what she did.
Locke presented a nearly $61.7 million spending plan for 2016-17 to the Board of Education Feb. 18. The budget is flat compared to current school spending.
“With all the months and days and hours spent developing this budget, we are proud of the fact that we can bring you a request that represents a 0 percent increase. We are proud of it. But I have to say that we did not set out to get a 0 percent increase. We were not driven by that number. We were driven by the actual needs of the students and the actual data,” Locke said.
Although there is no overall increase in the budget, salaries are set to go about $1 million, or 3.11 percent, to $35 million. Aside from contractual increases, the proposed budget calls for adding the equivalent of 4.5 full-time teacher positions and three part-time custodians.
The additional positions come after the board reduced staff by 20 full-time positions in the current budget.
The cost for transportation and tuition is also going up a little more than $92,000, or about 1.7 percent.
The increases were offset by decreases in several areas in the budget.
The capital projects budget is going down $316,263, or 48.8 percent, because the district received a state grant to perform some of the work.
The cost for supplies and utilities is down $500,520, or 16.9 percent, contracted services is down $173,906, or 5.3 percent; and employee benefits is down $159,533, or 1 percent.
The budget will eliminate the pay-to-play program at Naugatuck High School and City Hill Middle School.
“I don’t think our parents who send their kids to our schools should have to pay for their kids to participate in the sports or music activities. They are also paying every time they go to a game. It’s time we figure out how to pick that up in our local budget,” Locke said.
Getting rid of pay-to-play means the athletic supplies account will go up $35,000, but it’s an increase board members are happy to absorb.
“On behalf of parents who had kids in multiple sports, I really have to say that that is an awesome move,” board member Jill Mahoney said.
The board also spoke highly of the budget as a whole.
“I love the budget. This is the second year you’ve done it and I am very, very impressed,” Vice Chairman Glenn Connan told Locke.
The board is expected to vote on the budget Thursday. School officials will then present their budget to the Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses on March 7.