Shelton school budget would jump 2.9% with 'level services'

SHELTON — The education budget for the next fiscal year would increase 2.9 percent by simply maintaining present staffing and services, according to school administrators.

While no final proposal or recommendations are close at this point, school officials presented a draft budget with “level services” as part of a budget workshop Jan. 21.

The workshop was the first of five and, according to school Superintendent Chris Clouet, provided information on the process administrators use in forming the final recommended spending plan.

Keeping staffing and services “level” would see the budget increase $2.15 million from $72.77 million in 2019-20 to $74.91 million for the next fiscal year.

Contractual salary, benefits, professional services and utility increases are the primary drivers of the increase, Clouet said. Pay for certified staff would increase $1.25 million to $39.89 million; pay for non-certified salaries show a $285,228 increase to $9.41 million; employee benefits would go up $432,494 to $11.37 million; professional services would increase $696,852 to $1.85 million; and utilities would be $94,001 higher to $1.95 million.

"(This) was an overview session which included a look at what ‘level services’ would cost,” said Clouet. “It was not a proposal or a recommended budget.”

School Finance Director Rick Belden said the numbers presented Tuesday “includes contractual increases for salaries and estimated and projected increases for other areas.”

At this point, Belden said, some savings could be seen in the special education tuition account, but he was quick to note that the number is always in flux since new special education students could move in or out of the district at any time.

“The superintendent’s leadership team and school administrators have been working diligently on the numbers necessary to keep our schools working effectively and efficiently,” said board Chair Kathy Yolish. “Our board members will be spending several nights this month analyzing and looking for ways to bring in a budget that is fair and fiscally responsible.

“Be assured all of us are on the same page when it comes to kids and education,” she said.

The other Board of Education budget workshops will be held Jan. 27, Jan. 29 and Feb. 3, with board members expected to vote on the final numbers for submission to the city finance department on Feb. 5. School officials are required to submit the BOE-approved 2020-21 budget to the city by Feb. 14.

The city approved a $72,765,000 education budget for the present fiscal year, with the only extra money above the 2018-19 fiscal year number coming for the hiring of a school psychologist.