School board proposes $1.98-million increase for 2017-18 budget

Shelton’s Board of Education reached a consensus to propose a $1.98-million, or 2.82%, increase in its budget for 2017-18.

The board’s proposed increase would bring its budget to $72.4 million for the 2017-18 school year.

This number is subject to change, as it still has to appear before Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti and the city’s Board of Aldermen, who have been known to challenge the board’s requests in the past.

Throughout the board’s decision process, some members insisted that it needed to be more aggressive in the amount it asks for, while others considered the possible effects of asking the Board of Aldermen for a larger increase.

Superintendent of Shelton Schools Dr. Chris Clouet said the important thing is that no programs are being cut at this point.

In fact, the creation of a new program called the “School of Innovation” was approved by the school board in order to move the way students in Shelton learn to a more hands-on approach.

Clouet said this would not be costly, as it would use staff and a building the district already has.

The superintendent also said fewer staff and program cuts, should any be necessary, are anticipated because of a reduction in workers’ compensation claims.

He clarified that the possibility of layoffs and program cuts is still on the table, but said there are too many unknowns to know exactly how many.

Clouet said ultimately those figures will be determined by how much the district is granted by the state.

“We’re not hopeful at the moment,” said Clouet.

The superintendent said he’s been in frequent contact with the mayor and several aldermen to discuss how the city could potentially allocate additional funds for the Board of Education.

With no money to spare, Clouet said, the board is also continuing its work to dodge the pesky $350,000 tuition bill sent by the city of Bridgeport for the out-of-district students from Shelton who attend its Fairchild Wheeler Magnet School.

“We understand why parents are confused and we just want to assure them that we also feel we are being treated unfairly by Bridgeport and are recommending that they contact them directly to ask them to stop making this demand,” said Clouet.

While more deliberation is required before the city completes its budget, Clouet said, he’s pleased with the advancements his board has made in the process at this point.

“I think it’s a strong, reasonable proposal and meets the needs of our district in a way that balances the needs of our taxpayers and our students,” said Clouet.