Kobza calls for 5.39% budget increase amid rising enrollment in Monroe schools

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MONROE, CT – Schools Superintendent Joseph Kobza is proposing a budget of $ 64.8 million for Monroe public schools for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, a 5.39% increase from current spending.

According to Kobza, increasing student enrollment, especially at the elementary school level, is leading to an increased need for teachers, specialists and uncertified staff. He said his request was for the sustained increase in enrollments over the past two years.

Kobza’s request is for $ 3,315,735, which is 5.39% more than the current budget of $ 61.5 million, but the total can be revised several times before it gets to voters.

The Education Council has scheduled a series of workshops to examine different aspects of the budget, before voting on a revised proposal and sending it to First Selectman Ken Kellogg. Kellogg can make adjustments, before sending it to the Finance Council, which will review it and approve a final proposal that voters will vote on in a budget referendum.

In his presentation to the Education Council on Monday evening, Kobza said salaries and benefits are the main drivers of the requested increase, with salaries increasing by $ 2,937,764 (7.76%) and benefits. of $ 551,121 (4.97%).

These figures include the proposed funding for 19.15 certified staff positions. This year, the number of students enrolled has increased by 168 students (as of November 29). The total number of students is 3,366 and there are 267.15 certified staff positions.

In years when enrollments were comparable, 3,488 in 2012-13 and 3,379 in 2013-14, Kobza notes that there were 13-17 more certified employees than the district currently has.

Of the 19.15 certified positions, 9.45 are already allocated or reserved in the budget – paid for through grants, according to Kobza. He said most grants will run dry after next year, so he’s trying to pay those positions through the operating budget instead.

This includes a 0.25 English Learner (ELL) for the district, a K-5 math and science coordinator for the district, a 0.2 social worker for the district, a school psychologist. 0.4 for Jockey Hollow, two kindergarten teachers for Fawn Hollow and Stepney. primary schools, two primary teachers for Fawn Hollow and Stepney, and one special education teacher for Masuk / STEM Academy.

The other requested posts that are not currently in the budget are:

  • 3.0 Primary school teachers (ME and FH)
  • 3 x 0.4 Music, Art, PE (elementary)
  • 1.0 Library Media Specialist (SE)
  • 1.0 Pre-K teacher
  • 0.2 Preschool school psychologist
  • 2.0 Special education (MHS & JH)
  • 0.4 Speech and language (SW)
  • 1.0 School social worker (TS)
  • 0.5 ELL (SW)
  • 1.0 ELA K-5 Coordinator (SW)
  • 1.0 Chemistry / Physics (MHS)

In the above list, ME is Monroe Elementary School, FH is Fawn Hollow Elementary School, SE is Stepney Elementary School, JH is Jockey Hollow Middle School, MHS is Masuk High School, and SW is system wide.

All three elementary school principals – Leigh Metcalf Ances from Fawn Hollow, Kelly Svendsen from Monroe Elementary and Ashley Furnari from Stepney – attended Monday’s school board meeting and agreed the positions were needed to manage more chapters in some classes due to increased enrollment.

Sheila Casinelli, the district’s English Language Arts Coordinator for K-5 grades, also spoke of the need.

David Ferris, who was elected the new school board chair on Monday, said he had spoken with all three principals about their budget requests.

“Their budgets are very well thought out,” Ferris said. “They are based on need. “

Ferris and Kobza both thanked the directors for their hard work in putting together reasonable budget requests.

Kobza said some things in his budget proposal are based on estimates because he has to apply before anything is known, such as the amount of public funding the district will receive and the increase in medical insurance premiums.

For example, in its budget proposal, Kobza estimated that medical insurance premiums would increase by 8%. If the actual increase is different, the budget can be adjusted.

“The budget is not a sprint,” Kobza said. “It’s a marathon – and we’re going to get a lot of information over the next few months.”

The next budget workshop is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 8 at Masuk High School. Topics will include Jockey Hollow, Masuk, Track and Field and Computer Science

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