Stonington school chief seeking 4% boost in spending

Stonington - Superintendent of Schools Van Riley has proposed a 2014-15 budget that calls for a 4 percent increase.

The $35,078,587 budget calls for a $1,299,964 or 3.85 percent increase. That coupled with small decrease in revenue bumps the increase up to $1,317,964 or 4 percent. The current budget contains an $827,023 or 2.5 percent increase.

"The budget proposal already includes reductions in many areas with the focus on meeting the needs of our students and staff members while delivering a reasonable budget to the town for approval," Riley wrote in his budget recommendation to the school board.

He said the reductions were made to offset increases due to raises, increased health insurance costs and other items.

One of the largest increases is $270,816 in additional administrative salaries to accommodate the need for new state mandated teacher evaluations that go into effect this year. The budget calls for an additional assistant principal at the high school and one to be shared by Deans Mill and Mystic Middle schools.

"State unfunded mandates continue to be an issue for all districts in Connecticut. Most recently, the new unfunded teacher and administrative evaluation program, while basically a good idea, will overburden staff to a point where principals will have a difficult time doing their jobs," Riley wrote.

The budget also calls for eliminating eight full-time positions through retirement and attrition.

"At this point, attrition will cover all reductions and there will be no need for layoffs. However, if further reductions are recommended, layoffs could be required," Riley wrote.

The budget also calls for reducing paraprofessional salaries by $129,265 by converting these jobs to 29 hours per week.

The $14.1 million teacher salary account calls for a $179,542 or 1.3 percent hike while health insurance cost will jump $137,727 to 3.4 percent.

One of the other large increases is in the area of special education and magnet school tuition, which is jumping 187,797 or 11.8 percent to almost $1.8 million. Fuel costs are also projected to increase $145,418 or 11.7 percent.

The school board is also requesting the Board of Finance fund a five-year replacement plan in the town's capital improvement plan to update and replace computer technology.

The school board is slated to begin its budget workshops at 7 p.m. Thursday at the high school. The board will present a recommended budget to the Board of Finance later this winter.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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