Shelton school budget gets somewhat of a boost

The Shelton Board of Apportionment and Taxation (A&T) has voted to provide most of the funds requested in a Board of Education (BOE) alternative budget request that may allow for the implementation of full-day kindergarten and elimination of pay-to-play fees.

A&T members have decided to tap into the city’s surplus funds — or what they called the “unassigned fund account” — for most of the needed money.

Based on action Monday night, the BOE would receive about $621,000 of the $745,000 in new money it asked for in its toned-down budget request.

The alternative budget represented a reduced request from the BOE’s original proposed budget, but is higher than what Mayor Mark Lauretti had recommended.

The BOE has said it needed a minimum of $745,000 on top of Lauretti’s recommendation to start full-day K, eliminate pay-to-play, and meet rising special education costs. As part of that package, it also wanted the city to assume the expense of buying propane for school buses.

Based on the A&T's unanimous vote, the BOE allocation would increase by $2.6 million — or 4% — to $68.2 million when compared to the current budget.

No tax hike at this point in process

A&T members also said their approved budget would not require a tax hike. Lauretti’s budget also did not raise taxes.

“We did pretty good,” A&T Chairman Charlotte Madar said after the meeting. “I think both sides came to a good conclusion — and were able to do it while leaving a good tax situation.”

Madar said the increase given to the BOE seems adequate. “I think it’s an awful lot of money,” she said.

The proposed budget next moves to the Board of Aldermen, who will hold a public hearing in it within the next few weeks before taking a vote. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

Additional funds

A&T would come up with the additional funds from Lauretti’s recommendation by tapping into the surplus for the $406,000 that the BOE says it needs for full-day kindergarten, and giving $245,000 from the “Youth Programs” line item on the city side of the budget to the BOE.

The $245,000 should be enough to enable the BOE to stop the pay-to-participate fees now required from students to play sports and participate in many clubs.

In recent years, most of the money in the Youth Programs budget has gone unspent. Re-allocating $245,000 of that budget would still leave $30,000 in the account for the next fiscal year.

In addition, A&T supported moving the BOE’s $226,000 cost of propane to the city side of the budget. The city would pay for the $226,000 in propane with surplus funds, meaning that overall A&T wants to use $642,000 in surplus money to pay for additional expenses.

The $226,000 allocation is unlikely to be enough to cover propane for the next school year, based on what will be spent this year.

A&T also voted to put $200,000 for full-day K furniture and related supplies into the city side’s capital budget.