2.39% budget hike proposed for schools

Plainville’s Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Kitching proposed a modest increase of 2.39 percent for his 2013-14 school budget request, which he said is expected to “reprioritize, reinvest, and reallocate.”
Kitching went to the Board of Education last week with achievements and accomplishments across the district, in many areas, to explain what is needed in the Plainville School District.
He is proposing a 2.39 percent, or $791,744, increase on this year’s budget, which is expected to fund several initiatives to continue to comply with the state requirements, improve teaching methods, keep technology up-to-date and more.
Board member Becky Tyrell said she was “shocked” by the superintendent’s request and said what it was proposing is affordable.
“We feel very good about this,” Kitching told the board last week. “This is a great list that will help move our schools and our students forward.”
This year, the board’s budget totaled a little over $33.06 million. This increase would bring the bottom line to a little more than $33.85 and would fund the following: curriculum upgrades, a new math program for seventh and eighth grade students, one health teacher at the middle school, two elementary literacy teachers, support for school climate incentives (like the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports), fully implement 2013-14 technology replacement plan, additional security/residency monitor at Plainville High School, instrumental music for students in fourth grade (which hasn’t been available for about 10 years), Plainville High School career and college readiness center, technology support staff (which would be shared with the town), additional clubs, activities and athletics, additional maintainer, additional custodian, supplement Board of Education/town health insurance.
Kitching said the district has saved money by negotiating teacher contracts, receiving support from the state’s Project Choice, seeing a savings from the Energy Education program, changes in special education tuition, a  reduction in transportation expenses because of all-day kindergarten, in addition to reductions and reallocations across the budget. Under the teacher’s contracts, health insurances will not need to increase. All of these items will bring a savings of $559,925. Kitching said 42 of 86 accounts on the budget were reduced or will have a zero increase.
The average cost of a student in Plainville is $14,031, Kitching said, which is a little over $400 less than the average cost of a student in the State of Connecticut, and $89 less than Plainville’s District Reference Group.
Kitching’s complete budget presentation is available on the district’s website, www. plainvilleschools.org.
The Board of Education will move forward with work-sessions to look into every line item to see if there are any more savings. Then it will propose its budget. This is the first year the town will have its new voting process. The town government budget will be voted on separately from the Board of Education budget. If the budgets fail at the first vote, the council and Town Manager will adjust the budget in accordance with the “majority results from the advisory question.” If one or both budget fails at the second vote, the council and Town Manager must go back and make adjustments in conjunction with the majority results, just to the budget that had failed. Then, that budget will be deemed final. The council can hold public hearings or information meetings as necessary.
An example would be if the two proposed budgets, Board of Education and town government budget, were up for a vote and the town government budget failed and board’s budget passed, only the town’s budget would need to be adjusted, based on the results from the advisory question. That budget would then go back for another vote, and if it failed again, the council would have to adjust again. Then that would be the final budget.
The board was expected to hold its first work-session on Thursday, and is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. in the Plainville High School library for its second. The board is expected to vote on its final proposed budget at its next meeting, on Feb. 11.

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