NEW CANAAN — The Board of Education approved the superintendent’s proposed budget without alterations.

At Monday’s meeting, all but one member voted in favor of Superintendent Bryan Luizzi’s proposed $90,663,487 budget. The adopted spending plan is a 3.48 percent increase over the current year’s budget, despite the Board of Finance’s request town departments keep budget increases to two percent.

According to the district, they are on track to spend $87,618,405 this year.

Board member Maria Naughton was the lone dissenter of the adopted 2018-19 budget, voicing concerns about the cost of a new emotional intelligence program. The district spent $42,000 this year on a program out of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence for teachers, students and parents, but school officials are unsure how much the RULER program will cost next year.

“We owe it to taxpayers to determine what the full, ongoing cost of that program is,” Naughton said. “Whatever is new, we should ask how much and for how long.”

Naughton later said the RULER program seemed like it was meant to accomplish the same goals as a similar program the district created in-house and used in the past.

Other board members disagreed strongly with Naughton, noting that social-emotional intelligence is an important part of learning. Board Chairman Dionna Carlson urged Naughton to read up on the topic.

“If they are not socially and emotionally competent, they’re not going to be learning,” Carlson said.

Board member Brandon Hayes also pointed out how small of a sum the new program is in the overall budget increase. According to the district, 94.8 percent of the budget increase is going toward wages and benefits. These costs also represent 81 percent of the total budget.

Prior to the budget vote, the board was given a presentation on how their self-funded health insurance drives budget costs. The district has over $14 million set aside for employee benefits for the 2018-19 school year ,which makes up 16 percent of the budget.

Part of the budget also includes costs for an alternative high school program for students who need flexible academics with a therapeutic component. The district anticipates a net cost of $92,121, which takes into account $122,670 in anticipated savings from bringing students back in district after being placed in outside programs.

ekayata@hearstmediact.com; @erin_kayata