NORWALK, Conn. — The Norwalk Board of Education has formulated $1,788,183 in cuts to its initial proposed budget for the next school year.
The 2019-20 budget represents a nearly $8 million increase over 2018-19, and factors in an expected $1.9 million in surplus money left over at the end of this school year. It increases the full-time employee headcount by 52 positions, adds a fourth specials teacher at six elementary schools and funds an additional credit requirement at the high schools, bringing Norwalk in line with a state mandated 25 credits for graduation.
Only one of the Board’s strategic operating plan goals was deferred, the hoped-for change to high school start times, Norwalk Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Thomas Hamilton said at Monday’s Board of Education Finance Committee meeting.
The budget includes expansion of summer school to the sixth grade population, the creation of two Montessori classrooms at Brookside Elementary School and support for magnet programs, he said, mentioning a marine science pathway at Brien McMahon High School and the character program at Tracey Elementary.
There are 23 additional teacher positions correlating to the goals, including band teachers and Montessori teachers, he said. Efforts to bring Special Education programs in-house mean an additional 16 positions and five full-time substitutes are planned, one each at Cranbury and Marvin Elementary Schools, two at Silvermine and one “placeholder for nurse field trips,” according to the PowerPoint presentation.
The substitutes will not get benefits and will not be certified teachers, NPS Budget Coordinator Kristen Karzcmit said.
Four custodian positions are expected to be cut due to outplacement of an additional elementary school, the PowerPoint states.
The per pupil allocations have increased, from $8,173 at the high schools in 2018-19 to $8,848; $7,882 to $8,691 at the middle schools; and $7,414 to $8,287 at the elementary schools. Some expenses have been moved to the student-based budgets, such as non-certified substitute teachers, Karzmit said.
The reductions of $1.8 million come from Central Office, including $416,280 from the Talent Office and $197,870 from Curriculum.
The total funding from the City is $198,491,358, with $1,904,942 carryover from an expected surplus factored in to make the total budget $200,396,301. The Board had requested $202,184,484 from the City.
Under state law, the Board can retain a portion of a budget surplus equal to 1% of its budget. Hamilton said the carryover was part of a budget compromise reached with the City. This must be voted on by the Board of Estimate and Taxation.
He anticipates that the surplus will fund the planned $1.9 million carryover, equal to 1%, but couldn’t say how large the surplus will be.
“The fiscal year does not end until June 30th, and it takes some time after that to close the books,” he wrote Tuesday. “We will not know the final results of operation for the Board of Education until we close the books for the year.”