Wilton school board makes cuts to FY20 budget

Following a $1.1 million cut by the Board of Finance, the Board of Education approved a revised school budget for the fiscal year 2020 (FY20) at its meeting Thursday night.

Board of Education Chairman Christine Finkelstein said the impact of the cut was somewhat alleviated thanks to the Board of Finance's decision to fund the alternative school program's first year.

"This week's actions have helped alleviate some of the pressure on our budget, but we still have important decisions to make," Finkelstein said.

In reviewing all of the cost centers and associated proposals Superintendent Kevin Smith and administrators attempted to follow these guidelines:

  • Protect the health and safety of students;

  • Match resources with core beliefs, vision and strategic objectives

  • Attempt to minimize impact on students and staff members;

  • Prioritize areas to maintain investments;

  • Continue to find efficiencies wherever possible;

  • Comply with state and federal mandates;

  • Ensure mandated curriculum;

  • Ensure that any proposed programming reductions or eliminations are based on analysis tied to student outcomes and are informed by community values;

  • Consider opportunities to increase revenue;

  • Protect the operating capital.

The board cut the $468,000 planned for the alternative school due to the Board of Finance's decision. Staffing reductions were also made in the budget to meet the $1.1 million cut. This included the deferral of hiring a kindergarten teacher. The cut would save the district $100,000. Smith said there are currently 186 students registered and they didn't anticipate significant late registration numbers.

"We're taking a calculated risk right now," he said. "We haven't seen historically 65 kids materialize between now and August."

One of the two proposed Community Steps Job Coach was also eliminated to save $34,000. A half-time pre-kindergarten teacher was also eliminated to save $50,000 and the district deferred on hiring two part-time preschool paraprofessionals to save $25,500.

Training and Conferences/ Contract Services saw a reduction of $43,059 and the budget for substitutes was reduced by $50,000.

In addition to these cuts consultant services, which included guest speakers for public speaking classes at the high school, were cut by $4,234. The full-time equivalent proposal for an athletic trainer was also deferred to save the district $27,000.

Smith said the district also froze the 18-19 budget and intended to use the remaining funds to purchase the technology lease, saving the district $250,000. Funds would be drawn from available budget lines including salary, medical insurance, training and conferences, textbooks and digital resources.

A cut of $7,742 was also taken from athletic equipment and $37,509 from general supplies.

"In as many places as we could rather than trying to eliminate two things we tried to pare it down," Smith said of the cuts.

The Board of Education's budget will go to vote at the Annual Town Meeting on May 7. The meeting will take place at the Wilton High School Clune Center beginning at 7:30 p.m.