$87.3 million school board budget proposed

By Lisa Capobianco
Staff Writer
Southington School Supt. Dr. Joseph Erardi presented his proposed budget before the Board of Education during a recent budget workshop.
According to the Superintendent’s Operating Budget report, the proposed budget for 2014-2015 is $87,259, 873—an increase of 3.59 percent over this current year adopted budget. The adopted budget for this current year is $84,233,204.
Dr. Erardi said in his report that his proposed budget includes initiatives that serve as “needed resources” due to the new teacher evaluation plan and the Common Core State Standards, as mandated by the state.
According to Dr. Erardi’s budget summary, the budget also reflects the continued support of technology, as there are dedicated funds to the second phase of a three-year technology plan.
“What is presented in front of you…is the core of what is needed to continue to go forward for the 14-15 operational plan,” said Dr. Erardi during his presentation to the board.
During his presentation before board members, Dr. Erardi reflected back on previous budgets, recognizing how the economy affected them from 2007 to 2013.
He noted how previous budgets included the reduction in certified literacy specialists, a reduction of middle school and freshmen athletic competitions and the elimination of dedicated enrichment staff. However, he also looked back on success, including the implementation of all-day Kindergarten and the Family Resource Center, the establishment of a K-12 science coordinator and the restoration of an enrichment program for gifted students.
“These have been very difficult times,” Dr. Erardi said. “Although we lost opportunity, we also picked up opportunity for students.”
Looking ahead, Dr. Erardi provided an overview of several core foundations in the proposed budget: the request for new staff, professional development, and a three-year plan of Phase II for technology. More specifically, the proposed budget includes an increase of $11,500 for professional development to meet the needs of the new teacher evaluation system as well as the new state assessment program.
The proposed budget also includes the restoration of lost staffing and programming with an expense of $54,150 for a library media specialist at both middle schools as well as math specialist at Kennedy Middle School and a literacy specialist at DePaolo Middle School. Dr. Erardi’s report has also requested additional staff within the technology department, including a management level position at a cost of $65,000 to oversee the Southington Public Schools K-12 network, and four additional teaching positions to take the role of Teacher Leader at a cost of $187,000.
“We simply need more hands to do the work,” said Dr. Erardi during his presentation. “We are overwhelmed at this point with teacher evaluations—we are overwhelmed with Common Core State Standards.”
Board of Education Chairman Brian Goralski said the proposed budget mirrors three major priorities of the Board for the upcoming budget: the curriculum (Common Core State Standards), technology and teacher evaluations.
“The budget clearly shows where we need support,” Goralski said. “It is a very good reflection of our work.”

Comments? Email lcapobianco@southingtonobserver.com.

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