WALLINGFORD — Superintendent of Schools Salvatore Menzo is proposing a $107 million spending plan for the 2019-20 fiscal year, an increase of 5.7 percent.
Menzo presented his preliminary budget to the Board of Education operations committee Monday, which includes a sustained services budget, representing costs needed to maintain the school district, and a strategic plan budget, which includes items from the school board's long-term strategic plan.
Menzo recommended a sustained services budget of $104,138,962, a 2.4 increase from the current year, and a strategic plan budget of $3,327,227, an additional 3.3 percent increase from the current year, which would bring the total budget to $107,466,189.
The sustained services budget includes contractual increases, insurance increases and transportation.
Menzo estimates there will be 70 fewer students in 2019-20. Special education enrollment increases and there will be more students learning English in addition to a native language.
The number of students that receive free or reduced lunch rose from 22 percent in 2017-18 to 30.1 percent currently. Menzo attributes this to a system that better identifies more families in need.
Anticipated losses in state revenue are reflected in the sustained services budget.
“There is a commitment, from what I hear and read, from the governor to try to hold harmless education,” Menzo said. “However, there’s potential reductions to other areas of towns and municipalities, so while it might not hurt one side it might hurt another.”
Special education reimbursement from the state is expected to drop from 73 percent to 70 percent, a loss of $300,000.
The strategic plan budget includes spending $156,478 for two middle and high school instructional coaches, $78,239 for a third CNA teacher and $232,374 for two deans at the elementary schools.
The strategic plan budget also includes bonding $1.2 million in capital projects. The current budget includes $536,000 in capital projects.
Key areas include heating oil tank replacement at Cook Hill, Fritz, Highland, Pond Hill and Rock Hill elementary schools, replacement of the roof at Dag Hammarskjold Middle School and kitchen floor replacement at Highland.
“I think we’ve been fortunate as a district because we do kind of have this strategic plan as our North Star,” Menzo said. “It’s our guiding principle, it’s our focus.”
Typically in past years, the spending increase Menzo proposes in January gets trimmed before the board sends a budget request to Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. by the end of February.
Menzo's presented an initial total spending increase of 2.42 percent last year, or $2,434,571. Dickinson traditionally approves a spending increase lower than the one requested by the board. Last year, he approved a 1.58 percent increase, or $1,588,046.
The town council approved a 1.17 percent increase after the school district returned $411,612 to the town.
A link to Menzo’s PowerPoint presentation, a fact sheet and a survey was emailed to families Tuesday.
Upcoming school budget meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 30, Feb. 6 and Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. at central offices, 100 S. Turnpike Road.