Though it is still early in the 2016-2017 school year, the Board of Education (BOE) is already hard at work on next year’s budget. Last year’s process was a longer process than anticipated, and Connecticut’s financial state is causing concern for the board.
An early start seemed to be a logical approach.
“This year, the state of Connecticut didn’t commit to the money, and that’s never happened before,” said BOE chair Brian Goralski. “Typically, the budget reaches completion in the spring prior to the school year it affects because legally, it must be approved by July 1. The 2016-2017 budget was not finalized until June because the state announced significant budget reductions at the last minute.”
Currently, the board is right on schedule with next year’s plan, which they started last month. During the Sept. 22 meeting, BOE member Terry Lombardi reported updates to the board.
“We do know that there’s no new money that we can expect from the state,” Lombardi said about the speculations. “We, as districts, expressed our disappointment with the state Department of Education, continuing the mandates, reducing the funds and not giving us any leeway in terms of choices.”
Superintendent Timothy Connellan said that he doesn’t expect the state to offer any new money for next year. “The question is, ‘Will we be receiving less?’ and that is what’s causing concern.”
The current school budget is under the second year of the General Assembly’s bi-annual budget, which means that the new budget in process will depend on events that occur when they convene in January 2017.
This is an election year for the General Assembly, giving new faces to represent the districts and make decisions about the budget for next school year and the following. Connellan said that this could affect the budget process, but spoke highly of the Southington community officials that manage this process.
“Our community is in a good position right now,” he said. “We have good leadership and a good and thorough bid process.”
The BOE will continue to work on their budget request, which will be discussed during public workshops in January before it is presented to the Town Council.
“We’re trying to be as conservative as possible,” said Connellan. “We owe it to the students to always improve what we do.”