Some goals deferred in school budget

Saturday, January 17, 2009 2:13 AM EST
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

NORTH BRANFORD — At his first Board of Education meeting Thursday night, new Superintendent Scott Schoonmaker presented a 2009-10 budget that he said had put off some of the district’s goals because of the difficult economic climate.

The proposed budget includes an increase of nearly 3.7 percent, or $1.04 million, over the 2008-09 package, Schoonmaker said. Last year, the Town Council approved $28.4 million in funding for the school district, a 4.8 percent increase from the 2007-08 budget.

The 3.7 percent increase would bring the district’s budget to about $29.4 million. The Board of Education has scheduled two workshop meetings to discuss the budget, the first on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Totoket Valley Elementary School, the second Jan. 28 at the same time and place.

Schoonmaker called the budget proposal “a very fiscally responsible document.”

“These were very hard decisions to make,” he said. “These are things (that were not included in the budget) that I know the district believes in and these are things that we know due to economic times, this is not the right time to bring them forward.”

Among the most prominent items left out of the budget request is a move to all-day kindergarten, which an ad hoc committee recently recommended the district pursue.

The plan would cost about $330,000, according to the committee.

The proposed budget also does not include an increase in staffing at the high school. More teachers for several subjects are needed for “full implementation of the block schedule to provide additional opportunities” for students, according to the budget proposal.

District Business Manager Donald Winnicki said that the only personnel changes included in the budget proposal are moving one teacher at North Branford Intermediate School from sixth to seventh grade and adding a part-time language teacher at the elementary level.

“It’s a relatively straightforward request this year — there’s not a lot in it,” Winnicki said.

Board Chairwoman Deborah Prunier encouraged members of the public to attend the budget workshop meetings.

“It’s a work in progress,” she said. “That is the start of budget discussions.”

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