1 percent increase in funding sought for New London school budget

New London - The Board of Education plans to ask the City Council for a 1 percent, or $398,000, increase over its current $39.8 million budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The increase would be just enough to cover expected contractual salary increases and what the school district is expecting in transportation increases.

"We've come to agreements with two of our four bargaining units, and that (increase) will also cover what we understand will be the increase in costs for transportation," Superintendent of Schools Nicholas A.
Fischer said Friday. "One of the things we might have to consider is reducing the amount of transportation we currently provide."

The school system is expecting a 3.5 percent increase in transportation. Last month, the board approved an approximately
1 percent salary increase for teachers and administrators for the coming school year.

The Finance and Audit Committee of the Board of Education discussed the upcoming fiscal year's budget Thursday and forwarded the 1 percent increase request to the superintendent.

"He'll work the budget and let us know what we're going to do with that 1 percent," committee Chairwoman Delanna Muse said Friday. "We don't know what may have to be cut. We don't want to cut any of the existing programs if we can, and if possible, we're going to see if we can bring back some of the programs we lost."

Muse said the board "knows what the city is going through, but we can't have another year with flat-funding."

Last year, the school board asked for a 6 percent increase to its budget, which would have met increasing contractual obligations and retained nearly all services and staff. But the school system did not receive a funding increase from the city, and three administrators, 23.2 teaching positions, 15 educational aides and assistants, four secretaries and a custodian were eliminated.

"We're at that point where there is no place to look. There is no good place to cut," Fischer said. "Any cuts we make at this point will result in cuts to services to parents and students."

Last year was the fifth year in a row that the City Council did not provide a budget increase to the Board of Education. New London holds the state record for the most years a public school system has gone without a budget increase.

j.hanckel@theday.com

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