MERIDEN — The Board of Education reduced its 2019-20 budget request by $160,000 after 14 teachers notified the district they will retire at the end of the school year.
Assistant Superintendent Mike Grove said the money the district will save from hiring new teachers at a lower salary, projected at $371,000, exceeds what the district will pay out to the retiring teachers for unused sick time, about $211,000.
Teachers were given a January deadline to notify the district in order to receive their payout in July. Teachers receive 25 percent of the value of unused sick time they accumulate over their career when they retire, he said.
The school board’s Finance Committee voted this week to approve the reduction to its budget request, which the full board voted to send to the city earlier this month. The reduction brings the board’s total budget request to $104.9 million, a $4.8 million increase over the current year, or 4.8 percent.
Grove said the district usually averages about 12 to 15 teacher retirements a year. The retirements are spread across the district, with no concentration in any grade or school, Grove said. The budget currently includes money to fill all the openings.
Grove said the next development with the school budget will come at the end of February, when the board gets a better idea of what their health insurance rates will be for next year.
Superintendent Mark Benigni has previously said he’s optimistic that the 10-percent increase in health insurance currently budgeted could be lowered. Benigni said it’s also possible the district could receive additional Education Cost Sharing grant money from the state.
The Board of Education has been virtually flat-funded by the city over the past nine years. Benigni has recently said he believes the city will need to give the board an increase to maintain services and staffing.
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