FAIRFIELD — There is a $7.7 million increase in the Fairfield Public Schools 2020-21 budget, according to a presentation given to the Board of Education on Jan. 7.

The budget has grown from the previous year by 3.9 percent, or $7,769,814, to a total of $188,758,852. The two largest increases in spending came from employee benefits and salaries, making up more than half.

Superintendent Mike Cummings described the spending plan as a maintenance budget, adding “every dollar we spend needs to be traced back to supporting student growth.”

“We are at the last year of a five-year district improvement plan,” said Cummings. “This budget carries forth the work that was in the last district improvement plan ... and starts to set the stage for the next one.”

The superintendent said the goal of the district improvement plan and the budget were to “ensure that a rigorous, comprehensive instructional program is consistently delivered across all schools and grade levels.”

Employee benefits and salaries grew by 1.72 percent and 1.62 percent, respectively. Nearly all of the $3.12 million increase in benefit costs comes from a $3 million increase in health insurance spending.

Within the salaries budget, there was a more than $400,000 decrease in spending on central administration staff as well as wage reserve, staff replacement and degree changes. The cut was offset by an increase of $2.53 million in the “direct classroom support” subcategory.

According to the presentation, “direct classroom support” included teachers, certified support, paraprofessionals and special education trainers. Nearly 80 percent of the budget fell into the category.

Among other increases, Cummings said transportation spending is expected to grow by more than $470,000 because of a pending five-year contract that should be signed this month.

The budget also outlined savings and reductions totaling $683,919. They included less spending on tuition, supplies and materials and capital expenses. Cummings pointed out the school system had consolidated services with the municipals government in a variety of areas.

Cummings said special meetings are set for Jan. 14 and Jan. 21 to discuss changes to the central administration’s structure. He said the board members will get sent the budget in a Google document where they can add questions for the central staff to answer. He added that the final version of that document would be put online for public viewing.

The board of education votes on the budget on it’s Jan. 28 meeting.

The budget and the budget presentation are available https://boe.fairfieldschools.org/budget/.