BERLIN — The Board of Education passed a $47.4 million budget last week, trimming $500,000 off the proposal by Superintendent of Schools Brian Benigni.
Board President Richard Aroian said he’s confident the budget will be fairly reviewed by the Board of Finance, which can revise the proposal before passing it to the Town Council. The budget passed by the council is scheduled to go to referendum on April 28.
During the Feb. 10 meeting, Board of Finance Chairperson Sam Lomaglio told the board that he believes supporting the school district is in the best interest of the whole town.
"If we don't have a very good school system, the way I believe we have, then we're not going to encourage businesses and companies to move in town," he said.
The budget passed by the school board is $2.4 million more than this year’s budget or a 5.4 percent increase.
The largest area of growth is an increase in pay and benefits the district is contractually obligated to provide, which makes up $1 million of the increase. An additional $770,000 is budgeted for new staff, including four teachers, seven paraprofessionals and a computer technician to maintain recently added security equipment.
Benigni said the district has received an average budget increase of 1.7 percent over the past five years.
"The education provided here in Berlin is outstanding. What we're asking for is a budget that's competitive and relatively stable ... last year having a 3.2 percent increase was definitely a move in the right direction," he said.
The majority of the cuts to Benigni’s budget proposal were made to equipment and facilities line items, which were reduced by $370,000. Spending on supplies was decreased by $130,000.