CHESHIRE – School Superintendent Jeff Solan is proposing a $74.3 million budget, a 3.7 percent increase over the current education spending plan.
At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, he described the budget as “modest” and one that restores funding for items such as maintenance that he feels have been underfunded in recent years.
Solan’s proposal is $2.7 million higher than the current budget. The current budget was a 2.16 percent increase over the preceding year.
Contractual increases in the 2019-20 fiscal year for salaries and other items total $2 million. That’s the bulk of Solan’s requested increase with most of the remainder going to maintenance and the medical benefits fund. Solan also proposed increased hours for psychologists at elementary schools and Cheshire High School.
The school district has had lean years recently, according to Solan.
“Our focus is on student level supports and making sure at the classroom level our kids get what they need,” he said. “We’ve done that in this period of austerity.
“We’ve had to make reductions in places and shortchange things that didn’t impact the classroom level,” Solan added. “We cannot do that forever.”
The district’s enrollment for the upcoming school year is projected to be slightly lower than the current year. Solan proposed reducing three teaching positions for Dodd Middle School and adding one additional teacher at Doolittle Elementary School to keep average class sizes at around 18 students.
The school board will consider Solan’s proposal and adopt a budget which will then go to the Town Council for approval.
Board chairwoman Kathryn Fabiani said the board would hold several more meetings on the budget as well as a public information meeting.
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