Education board discusses budget goals, assumptions

Superintendent Kevin Smith presented a discussion document outlining the Wilton Public School District’s goals, assumptions and constraints for the fiscal year 2019 (FY19) budget during the Board of Education’s Oct. 12 meeting.

The district’s FY19 goals include:

  • Providing adequate funding to maintain and improve the high-quality education provided in grades Pre-K through 12th grade.

  • Targeting investments to advance the district’s strategic objectives.

  • Adhering to Board of Education guidelines for class size.

  • Maintaining investment in professional learning initiatives.

  • Funding year one of the capital improvement plan.

  • Funding the district’s technology plan.

The document lists a series of assumptions, some of which, Smith said, “are fairly obvious,” considering what’s been going on in Hartford.

For example, Smith said, “I think it’s reasonable to assume that the cost-sharing has been zeroed out for Wilton.”

Smith said he is also anticipating “some reduction” to the special education reimbursement grant, which the district relies on to “cover unanticipated costs.”

The “other significant concern” when it comes to Hartford, Smith said, is the possibility that some portion of the teacher retirement liability will be assigned to municipalities.

“Right now, many of us think that’s the biggest threat to current operating budget,” said Smith. “We’re going to pay very close attention to that.”

Smith said it’s been the district’s practice to look for “cost-efficient changes.”

According to the discussion document, the district plans to “examine and implement cost efficiencies where possible,” “comply with federal and state mandates,” and “honor collective bargaining agreements.”

Going into the FY19 budget, the education board is looking at the following projected salary increases:

  • Teachers: 3.06%

  • Administrators: 2.025%

  • Custodians: 2%

Salaries for secretaries and paraprofessionals are being negotiated, according to the document, and utility, transportation and insurance cost increases have not be determined.

Employer contributions to pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) “may decrease,” according to the document.

The district is also assuming a decrease in student enrollment, according to the document, but that’s “pending enrollment forecast review.”

The Board of Education plans to revisit these assumptions and concerns at a later date.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 26, in the Wilton High School Professional Library at 7 p.m.