The story out of the South Windsor Board of Education’s budget workshop on Thursday evening was that there wasn’t much of a story at all.
At least not yet.
Indeed, the school board reviewed the first 60 pages of Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kate Carter’s 100-page budget book in about an hour.
It’s not that the school board members weren’t prepared to discuss Carter’s proposed $68.12 million 2013-14 budget that calls for a $2.6 million - or 3.97 percent - spending increase over current spending levels.
It’s that the budget line items, according to school board Chairman David Joy, have essentially remained flat except for increases due to contractual requirements.
Joy pointed out that Carter's budget did not contain $1.5 million in additional expenses in an effort to keep it as lean as possible.
The main reason why the discussion was so brief Thursday evening was that one of the largest drivers of the proposed increase in spending - special education - was not discussed during the meeting. That issue will be discussed at the next budget workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
The school board instead tackled issues related to regular education, including mathematics, instructional technology, library/media, literacy, music and physical education.
Most of the substantive conversation focused on staffing at the elementary schools.
As a result of the district’s decision to move to full-day kindergarten, the elementary schools will - if the budget is approved - add a total of 4.5 additional full-time equivalent staff members, though two of those positions will be funded through grants. (Full-day kindergarten will require an additional 7.5 teachers through the district’s five elementary schools, though there will be staff reductions in grades 1 and 5 through declining enrollment.)
Joy pointed out that the proposed budget contained a request for three elementary teachers because there are possible class-size issues that may not come to fruition.
Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum & Instruction Daniel S. Hansen said that the school district would not hire additional teachers if the class sizes do not exceed the district’s guidelines.
There was also a request for additional information on the technology budget, which has nearly doubled in the last four years to its current request of over $600,000.
Carter said that she would provide the school board with a snapshot of where South Windsor has been and where it is now.
Other than that, there were few questions asked, or issues raised, by board members.
School board member Richard Stahr complimented Carter and her staff on the budget materials.
“There is so much great information here,” Stahr said. “I can’t give enough credit for the [work that has been done on the budget book].”