NAUGATUCK — The Board of Education’s budget proposal for the 2020-21 fiscal year is in the hands of borough officials.
Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke last week presented the board’s budget request to the Board of Finance through a conference call. The school board is seeking $64.4 million from the borough. The request is an increase of $2.3 million, or 3.6%, over the funds the borough allocated for education this fiscal year.
Although the board is asking for $64.4 million from the borough, its total proposed operating budget is $74.6 million, which includes about an additional $10 million in funding that comes from supplemental revenue and grants.
Contractual costs are driving the increase in the school board’s request.
The cost of health insurance is going up by $853,232 to $12.3 million, in the proposed budget. Contractual salary increases are going up by $671,873. The district’s total cost for salaries overall is $37.1 million, under the budget proposal.
Transportation costs are going up by $135,215 to $3.1 million, and the board’s pension cost is increasing $452,779 to $1.5 million.
“I think it’s a reasonable request because the majority of their ask are things out of their direct control,” Board of Finance Chairman Dan Sheridan said. “It’s not something they can change because it’s something that’s in their contracts.”
The budget proposal includes the equivalent of 13.9 new, full-time positions, and 10.9 of those positions are grant funded, Assistant Superintendent of School Christopher Montini said.
The new positions include a special education teacher, a social worker, a speech pathologist and an assistant principal at Maple Hill Elementary School, which was added this school year with grant money.
The spending plan also includes the equivalent of four, new full-time paraeducators because of the growing population of students that require special services. The cost of paraeducators is increasing $241,334, or 12.87%, to $2.1 million.
Montini said nearly 20% of Naugatuck students are on an individualized education plan for special services
The budget proposal reduces one teacher at Andrew Avenue Elementary School because of class size.
The proposal also 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 cost of salaries for substitute teachers is set to go up by $180,855, or 32.44%, to $738,355.
Borough officials will review the school budget request along with other budget requests over coming weeks.
“We will present a variety of scenarios to the joint boards so we can reach a decision which will not only factor in the needs of the school district but the needs of the town, the mill rate, the fund balance and coming up with a bare overall budget,” Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said.
The Joint Boards of Mayor and Burgesses and Board of Finance is scheduled to meet April 28 to adopt a budget to send to a hearing. Sheridan said officials are looking into holding the hearing online through Zoom due to the COVID-19 outbreak.