Schools to specify $1.3 million in cuts to offset budget reduction, rate increases
FAIRFIELD — Not even a day after the town budget was passed, school officials and administrators were already considering $1.3 million in adjustment to software and capital items to offset a $700,000 budget reduction and unanticipated rising costs.
According to a budget adjustment considerations sheet presented May 7, the Board of Education is looking at making changes to $1,387,263 worth from their original budget request
“This was really hard, putting this list together,” Superintendent Toni Jones said. “Every department has scoured and gone in and looked at (their numbers)...there’s not a lot of wiggle room.”
Items that would see cuts include Mindplay software, World Language K-2 software, pupil services testing materials, pension contribution changes and snow maintenance removal.
Other reductions would affect high school capital — at $10,000 per high school — legal fees, and a maintenance lift.
At the same time, a total of five items — paraprofessional salary, electricity and insurance adjustments — are seeing a $687,263 increase in costs as new information has been provided.
“This year we had some bigger adjustments because insurance went up and then also just got our high school pre-enrollment numbers,” Jones said Thursday afternoon. “We start building the budget in October and from then to May a lot of things can change.”
Jones noted that rates on insurance and utilities aren’t finalized until May or June and that in order to fund these costs, reductions have to be made in other areas.
Back in January, the Board of Education unanimously approved a $182.3 million budget that came in at a 5 percent increase over that of the current fiscal year, the largest percentage increase in over a decade.
Board of Education officials said the budget ask was focused primarily on contract increases, utilities and maintenance projects.
With the Representative Town Meeting’s budget approval Monday night, the schools saw the $700,000 cut, recommended by First Selectman Mike Tetreau, finalized.
“We had many meetings coming together putting together a budget that we approved unanimously,” Nick Aysseh, board member, said at the May 7 meeting. “We’re facing a $700,000 reduction and when you look at this sheet, I don’t see any real fat here to cut.”
The Board of Education will vote on the million-dollar worth of adjustments at their May 21 meeting.
“We’re running a lean machine and doing the best we can,” Aysseh said. “If we’re going to support contracts that are going to drive costs up, we need to be prepared as a community.