Superintendent Proposes $51.78 Million School Budget

Pam Johnson

Last night, Branford Superintendent of Schools Hamlet Hernandez delivered a proposed $51.78 million budget to the school board for the 2013-14 school year, an increase of 2.95 percent over the current budget. The board will review the proposal at workshops on Jan. 31 and Feb. 6 before sending its adopted budget on to the town for approval.

Hernandez said the increase represents a downard trend over the past three years, following a  3.10 percent proposed increase (2012-13) and 3.97 percent proposed increase (2011-12). A copy of the presentation can be viewed in the document seen to the right of this story.

The $1.48 million requested as 2013-14 proposed budget increases are created by fixed expenses including salaries, benefits and tuition as well as planned costs for purchased services, supplies, property and other expenses.

Hernandez characterized the proposed budget as delivering “…systemic improvement by reallocating resources.”  The budget maintains current class sizes, takes the district’s technology implementation up to scale (an increase from initiative stage), maintains the elementary World Language program initiated last year and maintains a teacher model implemented last year for the town’s expanding English Language Learning population.

The budget adds support to provide personnel resources to implement a new teacher evaluation mandate, supports the district’s efforts to migrate to Common Core State Standards, expands Pre-K opportunities and has built in the development and implementation of a “quality summer learning program for selected elementary students,” according to Hernandez.

Hernandez is proposing adding an Associate Superintendent as well as curriculum coordinator and math specialist positions equalling a total of 6.7 Full Time Equivalent units (of which 1.7 will be supported by grants), to support the improvements he proposes. However, by shifting existing FTEs, the additions would create a total FTE increase of only 2.9 for the 2013-14 school year.  He also plans 1.0 FTE added for Pre-K support which will be covered through outside funding.

District enrollment continues trending down due a continually diminishing elementary school population which last peaked in 2009 (at 1,322 students). In 2012, 1,243 elementary students enrolled in Branford Public Schools.  The 2009 BPS district total of 3,506 students (pre-K – 12) has also decreased annually since 2009. The current count shows 3,384 students enrolled in 2012.

Board of Education budget workshops to discuss and adopt the proposed budget will take place Thurs. Jan. 31, 7 p.m. in the Walsh Intermediate School faculty lounge; and Wed. Feb. 6, 7 p.m.  in the Branford High School library.

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