Vote on school budget to wait

Naugatuck Assistant Superintendent of Schools Christopher Montini, left, and Board of Finance member Dan Sheridan look over the proposed 2015-16 Board of Education budget Monday at Town Hall. The Board of Finance postponed its vote on the spending plan until April 27 due to anticipated reductions. –LUKE MARSHALL

Naugatuck Assistant Superintendent of Schools Christopher Montini, left, and Board of Finance member Dan Sheridan look over the proposed 2015-16 Board of Education budget Monday at Town Hall. The Board of Finance postponed its vote on the spending plan until April 27 due to anticipated reductions. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The Board of Finance is holding off on making a decision on the proposed school budget until firmer figures are known.

The Board of Education is requesting $62.5 million from the borough, an increase of nearly $1.6 million or roughly 2.6 percent over the current allocation. The total proposed operating budget, which includes grant revenue and supplemental income, is $69.2 million. Grant revenue and supplemental income are projected to be flat for the coming fiscal year.

Out of the total $69.2 million proposed operating budget, about $32.4 million comes from local tax dollars.

The school board presented its budget proposal to the Board of Finance last week. The finance board met Monday night to go over the spending the plan. School officials provided answers to a series of questions finance board members had on the budget.

Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke said the school board expects to see some reductions in the proposal, including the cost of teacher’s aide substitutes and gasoline.

Ultimately, the Board of Finance agreed to put the vote on the school budget off until its last meeting on April 27 and the final numbers are in.

Finance Board member Dan Sheridan said typically the finance board goes through the budget and recommends reductions it feels are necessary. However, he did not want to recommend reductions that were too high or too low.

“I don’t want to kneecap [Locke] in terms of improving the education in this borough. I think we’ve come a long way in terms of getting a leader down there finally that’s willing to rattle the cages a bit and get things done. I don’t want to not give her the funds she feels she needs,” Sheridan said.

Sheridan said he might feel differently next year, but wanted to give Locke a year to prove herself.

“Next year things might be different but I think we need to give her a chance with the funding that’s appropriate to improve our education. She’s got great goals out there,” Sheridan said.

Benefits and salaries make up 80 percent of the school spending plan.

The largest increase in the proposal is roughly $1.13 million for benefits. This includes about $541,000 more for health benefits and a $278,444 increase in the school board’s pension contribution. The additional money for pension costs will allow the board to fully fund its pension contribution at the level recommended by actuaries.

Salaries overall are set to go down about $218,000 due to proposed staff cuts. The spending plan calls for a net reduction of the equivalent of 21.5 full-time positions, including one administrator, 6.6 teachers, five paraprofessionals, 1.5 instructional aids, 0.1 psychologists, 3.5 secretaries, one social worker assistant, 0.5 custodians, 1.5 security personnel and 0.5 information technology personnel.