Newtown superintendent's proposed budget cuts 18 teaching jobs

NEWTOWN -- Newtown Interim Schools Superintendent John Reed has proposed a 2014-15 budget that would increase spending less than 1 percent and eliminate about 18 teaching positions and five staff jobs.

With taxpayers reeling from revaluation and district enrollments dropping, Reed presented a $71.58 million budget to the Board of Education on Thursday night that represents a .75 percent increase in spending for the next year.

The elimination of the jobs, some of which may include layoffs, is expected to save $1.2 million.

"Our goal was to make some difficult decisions, help you understand them, and then get you to support them,'' Reed said.

The budget does not include estimates of school security costs. Since the Sandy Hook school shooting in December 2012, police have provided additional coverage to schools on an overtime basis. Some of the costs were paid for by grants. School and town leaders are now debating what type of security to provide, and whether those costs will be paid by the town, the school district or some other way.

The impact of the Sandy Hook mass shooting continues to require additional resources, particularly the services of 33 mental health and support professionals, which cost almost $5 million.

Those costs were paid by federal grants, not taxpayers.

The construction of the new Sandy Hook Elementary is also being funded by a $50 million state grant.

More Information
BOE budget workshops
The Board of Education will continue its budget workshops on Jan. 28, Jan. 30, Feb. 4 and Feb. 6. The budget will then be sent to Finance Director Robert Tait by Feb. 14 where it will then be delivered to the Board of Finance. The board will continue its deliberations in March and then send to the Legislative Council for approval. A voter referendum on the town and school budget will be held in mid-April. To review the full budget, visit the district website:

"It is very important that the tragedy that befell our community in December 2012 not be used as a reason to lessen our vigorous pursuit of successful learning for our students,'' Reed said. "That said, it would also be unwise to not understand that the recovery process embarked upon for our staff and our students, does have important ramifications.''

Programming wise, Reed said the district will continue with some 30 initiatives it has ongoing, but will not add more.

Strategic planning will likely occur with the arrival of new Superintendent Joseph Erardi Jr. in the spring.

One area where money was added, beyond negotiated contracts, is in technology.

"It is not a fad. We don't have a choice,'' Reed said of adding new technology.

New Republican board member David Freedman, who campaigned on a zero budget increase, said he is impressed with Reed's vigilance in preparing a budget that gives students what they need to achieve but does not overtax the community.

"I'm grateful to him,'' Freedman said of Reed's work. "I favored a zero percent, and he came close to that. My one fear was that there would be things taken out that will affect student learning, and I think he found a pathway that is fiscally responsible but does not take programs away."

"I think we're in a good spot,'' Freedman said at this early stage in the process. "I truly hope the community will look at it, embrace it and move it forward.'';860-354-2274;