Naugatuck superintendent presents $65.1M budget proposal


By Elio Gugliotti, Editor

Christopher Montini

NAUGATUCK — Superintendent of Schools Christopher Montini’s $65.1 million budget proposal for the 2021-22 fiscal year seeks an additional $2.1 million from the borough.

Montini presented the spending plan Feb. 17 to the Board of Education. The $65.1 million spending plan is a 3.37% increase over this fiscal year’s school budget.

The $65.1 million would be the borough’s allocation for education expenses. The overall proposed 2021-22 school operating budget, which includes grant and supplemental revenue, is $75.2 million. Grant and supplemental revenue is projected to decrease $45,000. The proposed total operating budget represents an increase of a little more than $2 million, or about 2.8%.

Contractual increases are driving the $2.1 million spending rise in the proposal.

Under the proposal, salaries are going up $768,230, or about 2%, to $37.7 million. Benefits are set to increase $960,212, or 6.4%, to $15.8 million. Salaries and benefits make up 83% of the school budget.

“These two things are driving the 3.37 (% increase),” Montini said.

Montini said the spending plan assumes the borough will continue to pay $900,000 of the school board’s insurance costs in the municipal budget. If not, he said, the proposed school budget increase would be about $3 million.

When crafting the 2020-21 budget, borough officials moved $900,000 of insurance costs from the school budget to the municipal budget. Shifting the funds didn’t impact the overall borough budget. It freed up money for other items in the school budget, while allowing borough officials to limit the increase in school spending to avid setting a higher minimum school spending requirement. The borough can’t decrease school spending since Naugatuck Public Schools is an Alliance District, so any increase sets a new bar.

As Montini presented the dollars and cents that make up the spending plan, he said the figures represent students and resources. He said the proposal is what he feels is needed to provide the best services for students.

“We’re really talking about students and what students need,” he said.

The budget proposal includes changes designed to improve and expand services.

The budget includes four new teachers to work with students who speak English as a second language. Two of the positions would be repurposed from existing positions. Montini said the additional four teachers would allow every school to at least have its own part-time English Leaner teacher.

The number of English Leaner students in the district has increased from 210 three years ago to 320, Montini said.

The budget also adds a full-time board certified behavior analyst. The district contracts for behavior analyst services now. The full-time position would provide more coverage in the borough, school officials said. The board would reduce its contracted services and shift the funds to pay for the position.

The school board will review the budget before adopting a proposal at its March 11 meeting. School officials will present their proposal to the Board of Finance in late March.