BROOKFIELD — Superintendent John Barile has proposed an almost $44.6 million spending plan for next fiscal year, a 4.4 percent hike from this year’s budget.
The proposal includes four new full-time teachers in speech, pre-kindergarten, special education and American Sign Language. The teachers would cost almost $85,500 each.
This year’s budget is $42.7 million, a 4.1 percent increase from the previous year.
If the district did not invest in anything new, the budget would still need to rise by 3 percent because of contractual salary and benefit increases for employees and the rising cost of supplies and various services.
Barile recommended more than $592,000 in investments to hire the new teachers, enhance the science, math and reading programs, and make various other improvements.
The money for new science modules and the speech, pre-kindergarten and special education teachers is immediately needed, he said. But other proposals, such as the sign language teacher, are also important, he added.
“If we’re going to be Brookfield and we’re going to be unique and we want to offer tremendous experiences for our kids, these are things we need to do,” Barile said, in a school board meeting Wednesday night.
Board members will ask questions and discuss the budget in more detail before they send their proposal to the first selectman by the end of January. The first selectman, Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance will then recommend their versions. Residents will vote on the school and town budgets in May.
Board member Eve Sturdevant said she wished the district would invest more in social studies.
“Our students are doing poorly in social studies and it’s one of our core subjects,” she said. “I’m disappointed not to see anything about that class.”
Debbie Farias, the district’s curriculum specialist, said the staff is improving its social studies curriculum, but does not need to purchase a tool to do so.
“We certainly do want to do more with social studies, but we really have to pick our priorities,” she said. “We can’t bite off more than we can chew.”
Board members also questioned whether the district needs more teachers for English language learners, a growing population in the schools.
The district has one ELL teacher for K-12, in addition to ELL tutors at each of the schools.
“We’re having tremendous success with the model we have now,” Barile said.
He proposed adding a strength and conditioning coach and a business team leader at the high school.
Two para-educators, costing almost $98,000 total, are also part of the proposal.
Last year Barile had initially recommended a 6.4 percent increase, driven mainly by rising special education costs. The school, selectmen and finance boards — and eventually voters — slashed down that plan.Read Full Article
As part of those cuts, the district held off on opening a mobile world language lab at Whisconier Middle School and hiring a consultant to explore the feasibility of changing school start times.
But both of these initiatives are back in next year’s proposal. The consultant would cost $30,000, while the lab would cost $51,400.
The lab would be similar to the one at the high school and would include technology to better help students learn another language.
Some line items could decrease next year, including the money for professional and curriculum development.
Barile added he envisions creating two new positions sometime in the future. One would be a curriculum specialist for the visual and performing arts, while the other would be a director of community partnerships and civic engagement.
These positions are not part of next year’s proposal, but would bolster the schools’ art programs and help students earn internships, among other benefits, Barile said.
He also hopes to one year offer a summer school reading program and hire an enrichment consultant for talented and gifted students.