In January, the Board of Education approved the Superintendent’s 2021-22 Operating Budget request. At the time the Board was required to submit its budget request to the City, the State had not yet developed its insurance rates for the coming year.
This week, new information has been confirmed about expected health insurance costs for 2021-22, one of the largest drivers of next year’s projected budget increase. Preliminary rate projections now have been developed by the State that will reduce our projected health insurance budget request by $2,053,824. With this revised insurance projection, the total budget increase necessary to fund the FY 2021-22 recommended operating budget for Norwalk Public Schools would decline to 4.6%.
In addition to funding the rise in health insurance costs for all employees, this modest increase would provide the funding necessary for our school district to:
- Cover a 7% increase to staff priority needs and meet contractual obligations to teachers, paraeducators, administrators, custodians, nurses and other critical staff.
- Support the compelling need to mitigate learning loss resulting from the Covid global public health crisis.
- Maintain the progress that Norwalk Public Schools has made in providing local services for students with disabilities, instead of transporting children to other towns.
- Continue offering program improvements that NPS has made in areas such as Gifted & Talented, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), dual-language education, choice programs and pathways, and more.
- Fund the resources needed to reduce disproportionality and provide equity in education for the benefit of all students.
While the school district is pleased to learn that additional funding is available from the CARES Act under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund, those funds have restricted uses and are not allowed to replace local budget funds.
High quality schools contribute to a rise in home values, support the workforce needs of local companies, attract new businesses and residents, and contribute to the overall quality of life. Norwalk Public Schools has made great strides in building a school district recognized as the most successful city school district in the state. With the challenges of COVID still impacting our students, this a critical year for providing appropriate levels of school funding.
On behalf of the children and families of Norwalk, we respectfully request that the City of Norwalk fully fund the Board of Education’s revised budget request of a 4.6% increase.