Interim Superintendent of Schools Jacqueline Jacoby earlier this month presented a proposed 2013-14 budget of about $39.7 million that would increase spending by 6.5 percent, or about $2.4 million, over the current plan. Region 16 oversees schools in Prospect and Beacon Falls.
The board has been conducting various budget workshops, and is expected to complete a spending plan at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Woodland Regional High School, Beacon Falls. A hearing is set for 7 p.m. April 10 at Woodland.
According to a summary of the budget from Jacoby, this budget represents meeting contractual obligations, selected educational priorities, security and necessary building improvements.
Of the 6.5 percent increase, 5.4 percent, or about $2 million, is due to contractual commitments including debt service, transportation, teacher and noncertified staff contracts and health insurance, the document shows.
According to the plan, of the 5.4 percent increase, 1.4 percent is due to debt service on the new construction project.
Voters in December 2011 approved a $47.5 million, three-pronged building and renovation project that includes a new pre-kindergarten-through fifth-grade school, a new district office and renovations at Laurel Ledge School in Beacon Falls.
Under the overall proposal, the security services account shows an increase of 80.9 percent, or $137,125, which includes additional security measures throughout the district. The tuition account shows an increase of 61.4 percent, or $626,640, and the account for building improvements has an increase of 71.2 percent, or $46,873.
Priscilla Cretella, board chairwoman, said the board is in hard deliberations on the budget, and it hopes to make these hard decisions Wednesday.
She said the board has made some staff reductions including a third-grade teaching position at Laurel Ledge due to decreased enrollment. That person is retiring, and the position won’t be filled, Cretella said.
A full-time position in special education won’t be filled due to decreased enrollment, she said, and the board has reduced a half position in art and a half position in consumer science both at Woodland.
Cretella said the board has increased a half position in guidance at Woodland.
Robert Hiscox, board member, said the board still has a lot of open questions and has asked for backup material.
The district has gone the last four consecutive years with a net budget increase of about 1 percent, he said.
A big capital improvement item is to replace the oil boilers at Long River with new gas-fired ones, Hiscox said. The school has two boilers, but it has been operating on one all winter because the other one wasn’t functioning, he said.
The board also is exploring whether to make the security upgrades a separate bond issue question at a referendum, Hiscox said.