WILTON - With minimal discussion and no changes, the Board of Education adopted the superintendent\u2019s proposed $84-million budget as its own Thursday night. It was a unanimous vote that followed a month of public airing of the $83,989,144 proposal, which represents a 2.58-percent increase over the current budget. When the costs of the Genesis Alternative School are taken into account, the increase is 2 percent. \u201cWe think it\u2019s the budget that will meet our goals,\u201d Superintendent of Schools Kevin Smith said. \u201cIt\u2019s now the official Board of Education budget,\u201d said Chairman Deborah Low. Glenn Hemmerle was the only member to offer impromptu remarks on the budget, offering praise for Smith and calling the increase, as compared to other comparable districts, \u201cphenomenal.\u201d \u201cYear after year we\u2019ve consistently come forward with budgets lower than our DRG,\u201d he said, referencing Wilton\u2019s District Reference Group A, which includes Darien, Easton, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and District 9. \u201cYou\u2019ve exercised great judgment,\u201d Hemmerle said, \u201cyou\u2019ve exercised restraint, and you\u2019ve figured out how we\u2019re going to do the things we\u2019re going to do. \u201cWe\u2019re delivering a great product,\u201d he said. \u201cWe have great students and it doesn\u2019t happen cheaply to do that. We excel in the arts, music, sports; academically we\u2019re making progress in all measures of our performance. Hemmerle noted, however, that the Board of Finance\u2019s decision to not suggest an increase-limit to the school board this year \u2014 nor one to the Board of Selectmen \u2014 was of some concern to him. \u201cI was troubled by the fact that we did not get guidance from the Board of Finance this year,\u201d he said. \u201cWe have significant challenges before us and significant goals \u2014 what we want our graduates to be. We worked hard to define that and we have deliverables we have defined and this budget takes this in that direction.\u201d Earlier this month financiers visited the school board to hear some details on different areas of increase in the budget proposal. They also received an explanation of how this year\u2019s approved budget did not include the $468,000 for the first year of funding the Genesis program, thus making the new request \u2014 which include the second year of Genesis funding \u2014 a 2.58-percent increase over the $81,876,564 approved for 2019-20. While Board of Finance members gave no sign of how they saw the budget proposal, the joint meeting was amicable and its members appeared comfortable with details of the logic behind the request. Low described the budget as one that \u201cbalances student educational needs with fiscal responsibility for taxpayers. The budget supports our standards for excellence in education and aligns with our mission and goals. It moves us forward at a reasonable pace towards achieving our vision for all graduates.\u201d The budget also, she said, supports \u201cbest practices for education in the 21st century\u201d which are far different from those of 30 or 40 years ago. Specifically, she said the budget: \u00a0Maintains reasonable class sizes. \u00a0Ensures the most talented teachers. \u00a0Supports a powerful digital learning environment. \u00a0Continues math course revisions at Middlebrook. \u00a0Updates and adds high school courses in world language, media, social studies and math. \u00a0Adds \u201cmuch-needed\u201d facilities renovations at Middlebrook. She warned that, should the Board of Finance choose to seek cuts to the budget proposal, \u201cour choices become difficult at that point.\u201d She said, given the tightness of the budget, a reduction would lead to school staff \u201cnickel and diming\u201d for supplies and equipment, and would also lead to slower progress in initiatives, including digital learning, school climate and teacher training. Putting off or drawing out facilities work at Middlebrook would delay needed work at the high school, she added. \u201cIf reductions are extreme or draconian,\u201d she said, staff cuts would become necessary and this would adversely impact class sizes. She also said the finance board should remember the increases of the last five years which included two years at zero percent and the rest ranging from 0.77 percent to 1.98 percent. \u201cWe will need public involvement and support during the next steps,\u201d Low said, encouraging people to attend Board of Finance hearings and emailing their opinions.