Berlin school board wants to put unspent money into budget

Published on Thursday, 23 August 2018 20:56
Written by Charles Paullin


BERLIN - The Board of Education has asked the town to allocate $43,000 of money unspent in the last fiscal year toward this year’s budget.

The request was announced at the school board’s Aug. 13 meeting.

Around $443,590 of the school board’s $43,023,684 budget for fiscal year 2017-18 was not spent, School Superintendent Brian Benigni said. The fiscal year ended June 30.

The school board can ask for up to $430,236 under state statutes that allow it to request up to 1 percent of the previous year’s school board general fund budget, he said. 

But the school board previously agreed to return $400,000 to the town as its share of a $600,000 cut in state education funding.

The town agreed to absorb $200,000 of that state aid cut.

The school board found savings by, among other things, hiring Benigni as superintendent at a lower salary than his predecessor, David Erwin; not filling the assistant superintendent position Benigni vacated; and using an assistant principal as an interim principal at the high school when Principal Francis Kennedy retired.

The other $200,000 was asked to be saved by the town.

The $43,000 would go toward increasing school security by installing more cameras, phone and a Raptor system that would run a background check on guests who enter school buildings after they submit identification, Benigni said.

The school board could have asked for the full 1 percent, Benigni said, but elected not to.

Tencza added the 1 percent fund rollover has been rarely used in the past, the last time being when the district made all day kindergarten.

Benigni said he’s received questions from various people on what the school district is doing to increase security measures after having a school security. The district did have a security director planned to placed at one of the elementary schools to compliment the School Resource Officers at the high school and middle school, but that was cut from the budget, Benigni said Wednesday.

It’s been months since a school security forum with the public was held, Benigni said Wednesday.

The school district also recently received a $2,500 grant from Schaller Auto, which will go toward buying a Raptor system for one of the schools, he added.

In other action on Aug. 13, the school board:

nApproved a new contract for paraprofessionals, giving them a 2.5 percent pay increase in each of the next three years.

nApproved a new contract for Benigni, adding 6 months to his 1-year contract that started in January. The move puts his contract ratification schedule back in line for July 1, 2019, when the next fiscal year will start and his contract will be up.

nApproved year-end transfers presented by Director of Business operations Jeffrey Cugno.

nContinued discussion on how or whether to continue Berlin Bravos. 

Berlin Bravos highlight students at each of the schools for noteworthy behavior or accomplishments.

The board previously decided to have 10 meetings throughout the year in the schools as a way for the schools to become more involved. Student presentations might be part of those “on-location” meetings.

Whether those presentations, which happen at school board meetings in the board’s own building occasionally, would replace or supplement Berlin Bravos will be discussed at the next meeting.  

nDiscussed a special education teacher vacancy at the elementary school level.

nGave Erwin a gift of an hourglass with hands on the top and bottom. Erwin collects hourglasses, Benigni said, and the hands on this one represent continuing to help others as time goes by.

The next board meeting will be a special meeting on Monday at 7 p.m. in the Berlin High School Auditorium, .

Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or .

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin on Thursday, 23 August 2018 20:56. Updated: Thursday, 23 August 2018 20:58.