Log In

Reset Password

BOE Begins Focusing On 2012-13 School Budgets



Text Size

BOE Begins Focusing On 2012-13 School Budgets

By Eliza Hallabeck

During the Board of Education’s second budget workshop meeting, held in Newtown High School’s Lecture Hall on Thursday, January 19, the school board heard from each of the district principals regarding their individual budgets.

The budget workshop marked the first night the school board began focusing on the 2012-13 budget, following a presentation two nights earlier by Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson with her recommended budget.

Dr Robinson explained during the January 17 budget workshop that her recommendation represents a 4.64 percent increase over last year’s budget. If the school board decides to implement full-day kindergarten in the school district, the expected added costs will increase the recommended budget to 5.31 percent over last year’s budget.

The 4.64 percent increase represents a $71,122,794 budget, and the 5.31 percent increase represents a $71,579,456 budget.

Last year, the school district’s budget passed referendum at roughly $67,971,000.

Once the budget passes the school board, it will go before the Board of Finance and the Legislative Council before going to referendum.

Newtown High School

In the superintendent’s estimated expenditures list, Dr Robinson recommended Newtown High School receive $11,607,884, a 7.3 percent increase over the 2011-12 budget of $10,816,884.

Nearly $10.5 million of the requested high school budget would cover certified and noncertified salaries.

Some areas in the budget were recommended at a decreased amount from last year’s budget, including communications, textbooks, and equipment repairs.

NHS Principal Charles Dumais spoke about the high school’s needs for the coming year during Thursday’s meeting.

During her budget presentation on Tuesday, January 17, Dr Robinson listed six full-time positions to be added to the budget for 2012-13 at NHS: an assistant principal, an English teacher, a math teacher, a world language teacher, a secretary, and a library/media associate.

Mr Dumais said those positions are all important.

In response to Board of Education member John Vouros saying the public needs to know the duties of the assistant principals at the high school, specifically Jason Hiruo, who is the coordinator for the Newtown International Center for Education (NICE), formerly known as the China initiative, Mr Dumais said all NHS assistant principals have designated duties.

“All of them do a tremendous amount of work, and all of them have a tremendous amount of responsibility for the teachers and the students here at Newtown High School,” said Mr Dumais.

Mr Dumais also said having additional support staff, the assistant principal and secretary positions, would be his top priority requests for the 2012-13 fiscal year, to help meet requirements to meet a scheduled 2015 New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) visit.

If he had to choose one teaching position to add out of the requested positions, Mr Dumais said the high school has the greatest need for a math instructor.

Newtown Middle School

As listed in the superintendent’s estimated expenditures for 2012-13, Newtown Middle School was recommended to receive $5,501,543, a 2.71 percent increase from the budgeted amount in 2011-12, $5,356,459.

Roughly $5.2 million of the middle school’s allotted funds would go toward certified and noncertified salaries at the school.

As a result of the economy in the past couple of years, NMS Principal Diane Sherlock said “visionary” budgets were not requested. Instead, she said, teachers were instructed to submit budget requests for only what would be absolutely needed.

One addition she has requested for five years now, she said, is an additional guidance counselor, which would allow both grade levels at the school to have two counselors each.

That position, said Ms Sherlock, was a priority and still is a priority at the school.

One initiative within in the middle school budget would add iPads for the guidance counselors to bring to classrooms on a mobile lab to distribute to students to create personal success plans.


Intermediate School

In the superintendent’s estimated expenditures list for 2012-13, Reed Intermediate School was presented as receiving $5,089,320, a 6.18 percent increase from the $4,793,311 budgeted for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Roughly $4.8 million of the estimated budget represents the cost for certified and noncertified salaries at Reed for 2012-13.

Reductions in the budget, compared to the 2011-12 fiscal year, include the cost of noncertified staff and printing services.

As Dr Robinson said during her recommended budget presentation to the school board on January  17, the funds allotted for Reed in 2012-13 include staffing additions: a part-time math teacher, a full-time physical education teacher, and two part-time reading teachers.

“As you know, we are utilizing our writing teacher to teach fifth grade Project Adventure for two periods a day,” said Dr Epple, adding that she felt it would be beneficial to have the writing instructor available for students during a full school day for writing.

The Project Adventure course would be overseen by the physical education position request, which Dr Epple also said was removed from the budget two years ago.

Speaking to one of the two positions, a district level music position, in the superintendent’s recommended budget listed as an item to reduce the 2012-13 budget to make room for two district level instructional leaders, Dr Epple said the district’s Director of Music Michelle Hiscavitch also teaches the Chinese music course at Reed.

If her position is removed from the 2012-13 budget, Dr Epple said she would speak to her staff and Ms Hiscavitch to find a solution for her school.

After school board Vice Chair Laura Roche asked about implementing a language program at Reed, Mr Vouros questioned having the Chinese music course at Reed, because it is not offered at any other school is the district.

Calling the course a gap filler, Mr Vouros also said it is a “complete and total waste of time, as far as I am concerned.”

Ms Roche also asked Dr Epple if it was true that Reed’s library/media center is closed to students on Fridays. Dr Epple responded that it is, as a result of losing an educational position at the school in the last budget. That position, she later told the board, would cost over $9,000 to reinstate.

“But for your school to have to close your library... that is pretty significant,” said Ms Roche.

“That is the reality,” Dr Epple said.

Elementary Schools

In the superintendent’s recommended budget, Hawley Elementary School would receive $2,524,323, a .17 percent decrease from the previous year; Sandy Hook Elementary School would receive $3,055,079, a 1.8 percent increase; Middle Gate Elementary School would receive $2,619,000, a .83 percent decrease; and Head O’ Meadow Elementary School would receive $2,331,650, a .37 percent decrease.

School Board Chair Debbie Leidlein asked Sandy Hook School Principal Dawn Hochsprung to explain why her school was the only school with an increase in its budget for the next fiscal year. Ms Hochsprung said her school has a larger certified staff, and the projected increase was due to that.

Board members also spoke to the elementary school principals about the possibility of implementing full-day kindergarten in the district for next school year.

Head O’ Meadow Principal Barbara Gasparine also asked to have professional development funding restored to what it was allotted in last year’s budget.

During Thursday’s budget workshop, the school board also heard from the district Director of Facilities Gino Faiella on his budget projection for the coming fiscal year.

The district has also posted the full recommended budget for the 2012-13 year, as presented by Dr Robinson on January 17, online at www.newtown.k12.ct.us.

Comments are open. Be civil.

Leave a Reply