SOUTHINGTON – School Superintendent Tim Connellan says the school system needs a 4.6 percent increase in funding next year because the past two school budgets have not kept up with the cost of education.
Connellan wants to replenish accounts, such as supplies, that have been cut the past two years.
His budget proposal would increase school spending by $4.4 million to $100.2 million. The total represents a 4.6-percent increase over the current budget of $95.8 million. Connellan also requested just over $400,000 for new staff. Some would teach in a new world languages program at the elementary level, others would be assigned to special education.
“This plan maintains the current level of services, continues the implementation of initiatives … and proposes increased instructional and support services in some areas,” Connellan wrote to the board.
Salaries and benefits account for about 80 percent of the budget.
Board chairman Brian Goralski said he also feels the district hasn’t been funded at a level that keeps up with costs over the past two years.
“Supplies, things like that is typically where we roll things back,” he said. Connellan’s budget restores some funding to those areas, although Goralski said the district is still behind.
He said there’s a growing need for special education services and also supported adding world language education at the lower grades.
“It’s definitely the time to show the community what we need to grow education for our students,” Goralski said. “The budget does that in a responsible way,”
Patricia Queen, a board member, said she supports the superintendent’s budget, which she described as taking the district “back in the right direction.”
“Our Board of Education budget has been underfunded the past two years,” she said.
Queen also supported Connellan’s world language initiative which was started as a pilot program at South End School two years ago. Teaching languages earlier would help develop students mentally as well as provide them with the basis for an important skill.
“This is important work that’ll move us forward as a district,” Queen said.