Shelton schools need 6 percent budget hike, superintendent says

The Shelton Board of Education offices.

The Shelton Board of Education offices.

Contributed photo

SHELTON — To maintain present staff and programs in the next fiscal year, the school district would need a more than 6 percent jump from the current budget, according to Superintendent Ken Saranich. 

Saranich and school Finance Director Todd Hefflefinger, at the Board of Education’s recent budget workshop, presented what they called a “status quo” budget for 2023-24 that requires a $5 million increase to maintain. That increase would put the 2023-24 education budget at $80 million. 

“We’re staring over the financial cliff,” Saranich said. 

Saranich said the 6.68 percent increase looks large, but he added that this number is without finding any other funding sources or the board discussing any potential reductions. 

The status quo report is a “working document,” according to Saranich, and the board will use the next five workshops to reach the final numbers that must be submitted to the city by Feb. 15. 

The next workshop is set for Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. at the Board of Education offices. This workshop will focus on the facilities and maintenance, security, and technology budgets. 

The superintendent said the district faces major cost hikes in health insurance, utilities, and staffing contracts, combined with the loss of federal grant funding that presently covers eight staffers, custodial materials, and instructional supplies and software. 

In all, the district allocated $645,825 in grant money for staff, with $407,000 for instructional supplies (such as "Wit and Wisdom," "Eureka Math" and other math materials) and software. 

"We were able to supplement our budget the last two years based on the federal government grants,” Saranich said. “That help, along with assistance of the city, allowed us to have zero layoffs. We have not eliminated a single job over the past two years.” 

Among other increases to maintain status quo in the district are contractual increases of $1.48 million for certified staff and $218,576 for non-certified staff; $1.08 million for benefits; $588,935 for utilities (electricity and natural gas); and $354,100 for various custodial costs. 

“The reality is we will do what is required to sustain the district,” Saranich said. “We will talk about ways to make cuts if necessary and still maintain services and do the best for Shelton’s students.”