Region 16 budget goes to hearing

PROSPECT — The Region 16 Board of Education will hold a hearing on its 2019-20 budget proposal Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls.

Officials will present a $40,731,402 budget proposal. The proposal keeps overall school spending at the same level as this fiscal year, but includes new staff positions and expenditures throughout the district.

The proposal includes eight new instructional aides — one for each of the first grade classes in the region, which is comprised of Beacon Falls and Prospect. The increases in the proposal are offset by decreases in other areas, including a $300,000 decrease in the district’s debt payments.

While the proposal keeps spending flat, Prospect’s net education cost is projected to increase while Beacon Falls’ net cost is estimated to decrease slightly, according to estimates presented in February.

The disparity in the estimated impact to the net education costs is due to proposed cuts in state education funding in Gov. Ned Lamont’s proposed two-year state budget and a shift in student population. The net cost, which is the share of the school budget funded by local taxes, is divided between the two towns based on the ratio of students as of Oct. 1. The percentage of Prospect students in the district increased slightly to 61.78 percent.

Some figures, including state funding and the cost of health care, remain in flux.

The school board will vote to send the proposal to a district meeting on May 6 and decide the method of voting on the budget during its regular meeting that follows the hearing.