SOUTHINGTON — The Board of Education finalized a budget on Thursday amid frustration that more funding wasn’t provided by the Town Council.
School leaders adjusted budget requests to meet the $98.2 million approved by the Town Council earlier this month. The school board had asked for $100.2 million, an increase of $4.4 million, or 4.6 percent, over the current fiscal year.
The board approved a budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year that cuts from a host of areas such as salaries, benefits, purchased services and equipment.
The board passed the spending plan in a 7-2 vote. Board members said they were unhappy about making any reductions from the original proposal.
Bob Brown, a board member, asked for parking fees at the high school or fees for sports and clubs to fund elementary world language education. He was frustrated that the program keeps getting cut in each year’s budget.
Putting it off “doesn’t take into account that the world is changing and our students are changing,” Brown said.
Board vice chairwoman Terri Carmody didn’t support more fees.
“We are constantly asking the parents for more money,” she said.
Brown withdrew his proposal, but wanted a “pledge” from the board to seriously look into ways to fund elementary world language.
Several board members said they were disappointed that the council didn’t respond better to the school district’s funding requests.
“It was almost as if the Board of Education was a kid around Christmas asking for a pony,” said board member Joseph Baczewski. “Really, we were asking for reasonable things.”
Katrino Toce, parent of a special education student at Southington High School, urged the board to fund a second special education teacher for the high school’s Achieve program.
“The caseload of 15 complex students in very detailed IEPs (individualized education program) is too much for one teacher to handle,” she said. “It’s essential so that all students’ IEPs can be followed and so that no students need to be outplaced.”
The second special education teacher was included in the board’s original spending plan and maintained in the budget approved Thursday.