Southington schools superintendent proposing 3.3% increase to education budget; here's where the money will go

Published on Thursday, 21 January 2021 12:19
Written by BRIAN M. JOHNSON

@brianjohnsonBP

SOUTHINGTON – Superintendent of Schools Tim Connellan has proposed a 3.3% increase to the education budget, which is currently going through workshops before the Board of Education votes on adopting the budget Jan. 28.

In total, the budget calls for $103,613,171 in education spending for the 2021-22 school year. This represents an increase of $3,311,726 over last year's education budget of $100,301,445.

The proposed increase includes a $1,543,318, or 2.11%, increase in regular education spending, a $1,147,052, or $4.26%, increase in special education spending and a $621,356 increase for major projects and equipment.

“In Southington, as in many school districts across the state, needs will always outweigh the ability of the community to provide the necessary fiscal resources,” Connellan said. “The proposed Superintendent’s budget for 2021-2022 provides a reasonable balance to the legal responsibility of supporting the educational needs of the community while acknowledging the fact that fiscal resources are limited. Our administrative leadership team believes that this budget proposal meets the needs of the school district and the community.”

Connellan said the budget represents “the culmination of months of thoughtful and deliberate work” by the administrative leadership team.

“This plan maintains and supports the most effective current services provided for students and continues the implementation of innovative initiatives to support instruction,” Connellan said. “The plan proposes increased instructional and support services in some areas.”

Connellan said the budget will allow the school district to meet its contractual obligations while still providing services that are required to meet all federal and state mandates.

“The proposed budget once again addresses the most significant needs of the district in an incremental fashion so that specific areas can be improved over the course of several years,” he said. “In most Connecticut school districts, salaries, benefits and purchased services represent the most significant cost centers and the Southington Public School District budget is no exception. In addition, the high cost of providing high quality special education services without sufficient state or federal funding support is always a major consideration.”

Connellan went on to explain that salaries comprise 62.27% of the budget, benefits including health insurance make up another 18.89% of the budget and purchased services constitute 14.62% of the budget. Special education accounts for 27.1% of the proposed budget.

The special education increase, Connellan said, includes additional mental health services and additional school to post-high school transition services.

Connellan said Southington receives “great value” for its investment on public schools and that students in local schools perform well academically compared to their peers across the state.

One of Connellan’s priorities going into the 2021 school year, he said is to assess where students are academically as well as socially and emotionally. He said the schools have done well to weather the pandemic, despite having to occasionally close down buildings when staff was forced to quarantine. In each instance, the buildings were able to eventually reopen.

“I think they will be in pretty good shape,” he said. “It has been a difficult year, but our staff has done an amazing job to make sure our students are progressing academically, feel safe and have their social emotional health needs addressed.”

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or bjohnson@bristolpress.com.



Posted in New Britain Herald, Southington Herald on Thursday, 21 January 2021 12:19. Updated: Thursday, 21 January 2021 12:21.