Ridgefield School Superintendent Deborah Low presented a school budget request for 2013-14 of $83,906,427 to the Board of Education Monday.
Low said her proposal was $2,636,954 higher than the approved 2012-13 school budget, representing an increase of 3.24 percent.
She noted that it includes $515,000, about a fifth of the increase, for new school security improvements that were added to the budget since the deadly shooting in Newtown on Dec. 14.
Without the added cost of those security improvements, her budget request would have a proposed increase of 2.61 percent, which is almost exactly the same as the increase approved for the current year’s budget, Low said.
The security improvements include increasing the number of Ridgefield police serving as school resource officers from one to three and hiring eight security guards, which will mean each of the town’s nine public schools would have a security guard on duty during school hours.
Low said assisting efforts to hold costs down were:
- a favorable bid for a new school bus contract that would save more than $500,000 each year for five years
- savings of $340,000 for health insurance costs and $240,000 for other retirement benefits in the teachers’ contract
- a projected reduction of $162,000 for the cost of hiring substitute teachers, even though the per diem pay for substitutes will rise from $80 to $90
Breaking Down the Budget
Low said the district will begin implementing improvements in the Kindergarten - grade five math curriculum next year, which will cost $208,000 for new textbooks, teacher training and lead teacher stipends.
The new state-mandated teacher evaluations, other curriculum improvements and upgrades in the system data analysis and personnel management procedures would cost $72,500.
Implementing new state-mandated high school graduation requirements and upgrades in data analysis and personnel management procedures at the high school will cost $135,000.
Low estimated that special education costs would increase by $300,000 next year.
She said the district can expect declining pupil enrollment of about 99 students, but the distribution of those student enrollment declines would not result in much cost savings or class size reduction for the coming year.
Do you support a 3.24% increase in the school budget?