Borough BOE delves into budget proposal

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NAUGATUCK — The starting point for the Board of Education’s 2020-21 budget is $65 million, which would increase the borough’s allocation for education by $2.8 million.

The school board delved into the budget proposal, which represents a 4.58% increase over this year’s school budget, at a Feb. 20 workshop. The board will refine its spending plan during workshops before voting on a proposal at its March 12 meeting. School officials will present their budget request to the Board of Finance on March 30.

Among the largest increases in the budget is for health care, which is set to increase $853,232, or 7.45%, to $12.3 million under the budget proposal.

The figure for health care is fluid, and officials are still exploring their options. The board has received renewal rates of 14.2% from its present provider, ConnectiCare, and 8.5% from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Inc.

“We’re exploring that option at this moment,” Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke said. “We’re in a shared contract with the borough, and so both the borough and the board would have to agree to go with the switch.”

Under the budget proposal, contractual salaries are increasing by $671,873 and pension costs are going up $452,779.

The budget proposal also includes the equivalent of 17.9 new, full-time positions. Out of those positions, only seven would be paid for with borough funds. The rest would be covered by grants, officials said.

The new positions not covered by grants would cost $239,728, and 91% of that would be for special education positions to assist with an increase of 74 special education students this school year.

“That’s going to drive some of the budget requests,” Assistant Superintendent of Schools Christopher Montini said.

The new positions include four paraeducators, one special education teacher, one speech and language pathologist, and one part-time science teacher.

The board also wants to increase pay for substitute teachers. The proposal increases the rate for regular daily substitute teachers from $75 to $90 per day and the rate for building substitute teachers from $100 to $120 per day. The budget proposal increases the cost of substitute teacher salaries by $180,855, or 32.44%, to $738,355.

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