School board to seek 2.77 percent budget increase

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Naugatuck Board of Education member Dorothy Neth-Kuninm, left, Assistant Business Manager Robert Butler, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Brigitte Crispino and Superintendent of Schools John Tindall-Gibson look over the board’s proposed 2013-14 budget Monday night. The proposal is roughly $59.69 million, an increase of $1.6 million or 2.77 percent, ad will be presented to the boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses at a budget hearing April 8. –LUKE MARSHALL
Naugatuck Board of Education member Dorothy Neth-Kuninm, left, Assistant Business Manager Robert Butler, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Brigitte Crispino and Superintendent of Schools John Tindall-Gibson look over the board’s proposed 2013-14 budget Monday night. The proposal is roughly $59.69 million, an increase of $1.6 million or 2.77 percent, ad will be presented to the boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses at a budget hearing April 8. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The Board of Education will present a proposed budget of $59.69 million for the 2013-14 school year when it meets with the boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses for a budget hearing April 8.

The school board settled on the final figure during a special meeting Monday night. The proposal represents an increase of $1.6 million, or 2.77 percent, over the current budget.

Assistant School Business Manager Robert Butler said the district does not know what it is going to receive from the state for funding, so the budget uses the numbers from what the state gave the district last year.

“We have not anticipated any increases what-so-ever. We have not allocated for any decreases either,” Butler said.

The largest increase in the proposal is in the capital outlay budget, which increases by $446,500 to $556,500. The proposal includes $200,000 for school security upgrades.

Superintendent of Schools John Tindall-Gibson said the $200,000 proposed for school security was in response to an audit done at Central Avenue School by Kaestle Boos Associates.

Kaestle Boos recommended numerous security upgrades to the building which would cost the district approximately $450,000. Tindall-Gibson said he expects the other schools to be about the same, which would mean a total cost of approximately $4 million.

Tindall-Gibson did not believe the budget would pass if all the security upgrades were put into the budget at once, but felt that $200,000 was a good place to start.

Board member Rock Vitale said he would like to see an armed guard in the high school. Vitale, who was originally against the idea said he changed his mind after watching the intruder drill the school held on March 18.

“I was dead set against any school employees being armed or having any weapons in schools. Having seen it in real life, it changed my mind and I think we need to consider moving at least incrementally ahead by providing some sort of program to provide more security, starting at the high school,” Vitale said.

Vitale said there was recently a seminar in Massachusetts that said schools need to do more than just have a lockdown policy to protect against an armed gunman in the school.

Vitale said he would like to put something in the budget to train one of the security personnel to carry a weapon in the school.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this because I’ve been against it for so many years,” Vitale said.

Currently the high school has a school resource officer that is trained and permitted to carry a weapon on school grounds.

James Jordan, chairman of the board’s finance subcommittee, pointed out the proposed $200,000 for school safety has not been allocated for anything as of yet and could be used for training and salary for an armed security officer.

The increase for capital expenses also includes $45,000 for the heating system at Hillside Intermediate School, $50,500 for roof and façade repairs at City Hill Middle School and $68,500 for district-wide fire system repairs.

The proposed budget includes $382,000 more for teacher salaries, based on contractual agreements and two additional special education teachers. Assistant Superintendent of Schools Brigitte Crispino said the new teachers are needed to comply with mandated teacher-student ratios for special education, since the district’s special education enrollment is increasing.

One of the most contested line items in the budget was the proposed position of director of instruction.

This position, which carries a cost of $132,490, was held by Crispino until she was promoted to assistant superintendent and the position was eliminated.

The board questioned where the funding was going to come from for the new position.

Crispino said the district could place part of the salary in the Alliance District application this year. However, there is no guarantee that the district would receive the funding.

Crispino said the savings the district has received from switching dental insurance, which is approximately $50,000, could also be used to offset the cost of the position.

Board member Dorothy Neth-Kunin said when the interviews were being held for the new assistant superintendent, the search committee was debating whether to hire someone who could fill this position as well. However, with the new Common Core tests coming up in the next few years, they felt it might be wise to have a separate person in this position.

Officials said school administrators indicated a need for both positions.

“From what I recall, that was their single most important need throughout the district,” Chairman David Heller said.

Crispino said that currently, in addition to her, the responsibilities of the director of instruction are also falling on the classroom teachers.

“You have to start to shift responsibilities and our key responsibility it to keep the teachers in the classrooms with the students,” Crispino said.

Jordan was concerned that if the district was able to finance the job through a grant for a year what would happen to it the following year. He was also concerned that since the job was not a stable one, the board may not find someone to take it for only one year.

The joint boards can amend the proposal following the hearing April 8.  The joint boards are scheduled to adopt the entire 2013-14 budget May 16.