6.4% schools budget hike proposed
Published 1:52 pm, Wednesday, January 20, 2016
The New Canaan School District’s operating budget includes a proposed 6.4-percent increase to $88.5 million from last year’s $83.2 million driven by a rise in costs for health insurance, outplacement and other services.
Four percent of the increase in the operating budget is to cover increased health care costs of $3.7 million, New Canaan Schools Superintendent Dr. Bryan Luizzi told the Board of Education during a presentation at the board’s regular Jan. 11 meeting.
Elementary school enrollment is projected to grow from 1,594 to 1,628 students in grades K-5, Luizzi said, and the budget calls for an increase of six personnel, including five new teachers and a reduction of two administrative personnel.
The budget also includes moving up some projects, including a proposed $400,000 repaving of a parking lot at South School, stone work at Saxe Middle School, and $125,000 for a gym floor replacement at West School as part of a $2.8 million proposed capital budget. That funding does not include funding for an approved $18.6 million expansion of Saxe.
Also included in the budget is $461,000 for maintenance costs, including unspecified structural repairs to buildings.
“Our commitment represented in the budget we are sharing with you tonight is to continue to provide an outstanding educational experience for all of our students as they prepare for the exciting and dynamic future they have ahead,” Luizzi said.
Deferred capital projects in future years include a $430,000 appropriation to retrofit lighting fixtures and replace playground equipment at Saxe Middle School.
The $3.7 million increase in health insurance costs is 28 percent higher than what the district expects to spend in the current year, Luizzi said. The surge in cost is due to the need to cover the costs using nearly depleted reserve dollars that had covered the cost for the past several years.
Teachers’ salaries will increase $2.4 million or 4.5 percent, driven by the district’s enrollment growth, including 29 new students at West School, according to the budget. The total increase in students district-wide is projected to be 72 students from 4,174 to 4,246 students in 2016-2017.
“We are about 80 percent salaries and benefits which is normal in education because it is a people business,” Luizzi said. “… The enrollment trend at the middle school continues to be upward and you see the projections for the high school mirror it four years later.”
Luizzi was scheduled to make an initial presentation of budget numbers to the town’s Board of Selectmen this week. The Board of Finance would vote on the budget in late February, followed by the Town Council in late March.