5/1/2020 - A Message from Superintendent of Schools Kevin Case 5/1/20
I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to let you know that the Town of Canton Board of Finance will be holding a Public Budget Hearing next Monday, May 4, 2020 at 7:00 PM. This will be a virtual meeting. More information about calling in to the hearing will be provided soon. The Board of Finance would like to hear your comments regarding the proposed budgets put forward by the Board of Selectmen and Board of Education. You can voice your comments at the hearing or you can send your comments to the Boards by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to provide you an overview of the Board of Education's Proposed Budget.
The budget process began this past fall as the administrators worked with their staff to develop budget requests based upon school and department needs. Our administrators then presented their budget requests to the Board of Education. The Finance Committee then met several times to review the requests and to provide feedback as this budget was developed. This budget was developed with the following priorities in mind:
• Ensure that all class sizes remain within the Board of Education’s Instruction Policy’s Class Size Guidelines to maintain high quality instruction.
• Provide social and emotional learning support for our students.
• Meet the individual needs of students receiving special education and related services.
The challenges for 2020-2021 include not only maintaining the excellent quality of the education our students receive in our our schools but also in continuing to implement state driven unfunded mandates including inadequate financial support from the State of Connecticut for Special Education Programs, along with legal fees associated with special education services. As we began this budget process, the major fixed cost increases totaled $1,366,984 or a 5.14% increase over this current year’s spending. The major cost drivers include an increase of $ 562,432, or 2.12% of the budget increase in special education expenses due to additional student out placements and changes in programming due to students’ individual needs; an increase in health insurance costs at $ 174,982; and an increase of $ 73,382 for defined benefit contributions. The Special Education services are mandated by the State of Connecticut.
Following a zero-based budgeting philosophy, we are requesting funding truly necessary to educate our students in alignment with our vision and mission. Reductions were made in several line items, including the reduction of four (4) certified salaries due to retirements and major reductions in: district professional development, technology supplies, educational technology, technology equipment, and technology infrastructure. The Board of Education is using $727,000 of Choice Attendance Grant Funding to fund several items, greatly reducing the operating budget. Non-instructional line items were also reduced as much as possible.
All staffing positions were examined closely. This budget proposal includes requests for: one additional Grade 3 teacher due to increased student needs and to maintain appropriate class size; a 0.1 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) American Sign Language Teacher at Canton High School to staff a new elective opportunity; and an a 0.5 FTE Social Worker to support students' socially and emotionally at Cherry Brook Primary School. This position is a priority as we support students returning to school following the COVID-19 Pandemic.To offset this increase, we are eliminating nine (9) non-certified para -educator/tutor positions throughout the District. These positions will be eliminated through staff attrition while individual learning plans will continue to be met.
Following the presentation of the Budget to the Town Board of Finance, the Board of Finance requested that the Board of Education Budget be reduced by $ 206,499. The Board of Education reduced several line items, with the major reduction being the elimination of the proposed School Resource Officer.
In summary, the Board of Education is requesting a budget increase of $ 981,234 or 3.69% over this year's spending. $ 562,432 or 2.12% of this increase is due to state mandated special education costs while $ 418,802, or 1.57% of this increase is due to increases in operational costs. Several line items were greatly reduced to bring the operational costs of the Canton Public Schools to this level.
Our goal is to maintain the high quality level of education our students receive in our award winning District. U.S. News and World Report recently named Canton High School as one of the Best High Schools in Connecticut for 2020, ranked #7 in Hartford County, and #16 in the State of Connecticut. For the twelfth year in a row, the Canton Public Schools were named a Best Community supporting Music Education.
Attached you will find a presentation summarizing the 2020-2021 Board of Education Budget. The entire line item budget can be found on our website, www.cantonschools.org. Please email me with questions you may have. Most importantly, please send your comments to email@example.com in advance of the Public Hearing on Monday.
Please stay well!
Kevin D. Case
Superintendent of Schools