WILTON \u2014 Now that there may be light at the end of the long tunnel of the coronavirus pandemic, school officials have begun looking at how things will play out with the next budget. \u201cThere are some differences for this year that I want to call out right now,\u201d Kevin Smith, superintendent of schools, told the Board of Education on Thursday night at its last regular meeting of 2020. In particular, questions surround enrollment, as well as how the needs for \u2014 and cost of \u2014 special education services will play out. Statewide and nationally, Smith said, questions of increased litigation relating to the past year, as well as costs for compensatory services, are being watched closely by everyone. \u201cWe need to monitor along those lines,\u201d he said. \u201cAs the pandemic comes to a close, my office is going to get busy,\u201d said Andrea Leonardi, assistant superintendent for special services. She said the state Department of Education \u2014 and at least one federal agency \u2014 will make determinations as to what will define needs and achievement following the unusual 2020-21 school year, and how individual districts are supposed to cope with them. \u201cWe\u2019re still waiting for some guidance,\u201d she said. \u201cLikely what we\u2019re going to see, and what we\u2019ve begun to see \u2026 is litigation is going to answer these questions,\u201d Leonardi said, with exactly how the district ends up framing related legal requirements for special-needs students yet to be determined. She said additional services would probably be targeted for the summer months, and could carry over for two years. \u201cThere\u2019s not going to be a lot of time to add (services),\u201d she said, once school returns to full-time. \u201cI\u2019m not sure that adding more instruction very late in the day, or in the mornings, is going to work out,\u201d she said. Asked exactly what additional services will be needed \u2014 and to what extent \u2014 officials said it was too early to tell. \u201cI don\u2019t think we really know yet,\u201d Smith said. Separately, he highlighted the potential for learning loss among all students, with mathematics an area that\u2019s been of special concern. \u201cWe\u2019re really prioritizing mathematics instruction \u2026 and trying to expand some intervention services in a variety of ways,\u201d he said. Regarding enrollment, Smith said it already looked like close to 40 students who were not taught by the district this year will be returning, with more possibly to follow. \u201cWe know that we had 160-some-odd kids opt for either home schooling or private school,\u201d he said, because of the pandemic. While not everyone has responded to a survey sent out to both groups, he said \u201cabout 30 of the students who are presently being home schooled are planning on returning.\u201d Eight students from the 25 families who responded to the survey sent to those now in private school said they would be returning. \u201cWe don\u2019t have complete responses yet, (but) we\u2019ll continue to refine that as more information comes in,\u201d Smith said. \u201cWe\u2019re feeling good where we are with the vaccines and whatnot, so we are anticipating that our schools will be running at full capacity,\u201d he said. Other items that may play into budget assumptions include facilities \u2014 in particular a re-examination of the Middlebrook School renovation project, which may require more work than was previously expected. \u201cWe may need to go and approach this a different way,\u201d he said, noting there could be a number of items in the building that demand additional scrutiny. He referenced an instance of moisture supposedly creeping into a floor area, which would demand a two-ply sealant being placed over the cement when that floor section is redone. \u201cThat\u2019s an additional significant cost,\u201d he said. \u201cI think we have to go back and look at this building a little more carefully,\u201d he said. Smith also said he wanted to keep both a kindergarten and a fifth-grade teacher that were hired for this year, in part to help keep class sizes smaller as it might help improve instruction next year in relation to unknown needs. \u201cI think the board needs some time to just contemplate these assumptions,\u201d Chair Deborah Low said. \u201cMy observation is that many of them are COVID-related.\u201d \u201cObviously we\u2019ll be hearing more, but any board members that have questions or comments, or want specifics, please email Kevin so we can talk about them again at our next meeting,\u201d she said, which is scheduled for Jan. 7.