The superintendent of schools on Monday night proposed a $92 million budget for New Canaan Public Schools next year, a 2.55 percent increase over current spending.
Of the approximately $2.3 million projected spending increase over this fiscal year, more than $1.6 million is due to employee salaries, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi told members of the Board of Education during their regular meeting. The budget also anticipates spending less money in areas that include contracted services ($94,554), property services ($440,302), supplies ($58,707) and equipment ($56,016), he said.
The salary figure of $1.6 million represents an increase of about 2.8 percent over current spending, Luizzi said. The increase is driven mainly by contractual increases with unions representing district employees ($1.4 million), as well as “grid progressions” for teachers advancing on the salary schedule ($189,410), he said. The spending plan also anticipates the addition of .7 full-time equivalent or ‘FTE’ in science in world languages ($43,261).
The anticipated rise in spending on salaries is also offset somewhat by turnover savings of about $150,000, a reduction of three FTEs among teaching assistants and supervisory aides, the elimination (through contract negotiations) of a TEAM coordinator (.2 FTE) and the anticipation that, due to enrollment projections, the elementary schools will see the reduction of one FTE at some point.
The proposed spending plan “meets the strategic needs of district, enables us to sustain the excellence that we have had through the years and gives us some funding for the strategic priorities that we have,” Luizzi said during the Board of Ed’s regular meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School.
“It also is responsive to the conversations and what we have heard in the community. We hear and respect the concern that folks have around stresses locally and statewide around taxation and the tax base and the Grand List and revaluation and those other things. So we worked very hard to be as responsive as we could be to all stakeholders in bringing this together.”
Luizzi said during his presentation that the overall 2.55 percent increase is lower than Board of Finance guidance. The Board of Finance this year set guidance to limit the increase in overall spending in New Canaan to $3 million. Luizzi said the finance board’s guidance for the district was set at 2.8 percent, though within that figure the year-over-year change in benefits was higher than guidance (5.85 percent versus 5 percent guidance) and the non-benefits accounts change was lower than BOF guidance (1.9 percent versus 2.38 percent).
“We did work very hard to bring in the budget at frankly it’s as reasonable as we could, funding our priorities as we have to but really looking at all of the ways we can try to save money, as we always do,” he said.
His proposed budget is the first step for the Board of Ed toward developing its full spending plan for review and final approval (in April) by town funding bodies. The Board of Ed is to vote on Luizzi’s proposed budget at its Jan. 22 meeting. The school operating budget in New Canaan typically accounts for about 60 percent of the town’s spending. Those in attendance at the Board of Ed meeting included First Selectman Kevin Moynihan as well as Town Councilmen Tom Butterworth and Penny Young,
Luizzi during his presentation reviewed district goals as well as data that spotlights many of the ways NCPS has excelled in both academics and athletics. In presenting the chart below which compares per-pupil spending in New Canaan compared to towns in its District Reference Group, Luizzi said, “I think we do quite a good job managing our spending.”
Net Expenditures Per Pupil