Superintendent Kevin Smith proposed an $82,983,607 school budget for fiscal year 2020 (FY20) during the Board of Education\u2019s Jan. 10 meeting. The proposed school budget reflects a $1,107,044 or 1.35% increase from the district\u2019s current budget and falls below the 1.6% budget guidance recommended by the Board of Finance in October. Nearly 80% of total spending is driven by negotiated costs like health care costs and teacher and staff salaries, as well as fixed costs like energy and transportation costs. Smith\u2019s proposed FY20 budget breaks down as follows: Salaries: $52,459,659 (3.8% increase over the current budget). Insurance and employee benefits: $12,552,200 (8% decrease). Other purchased services: $8,579,244 (4.6% decrease) Professional services: $5,954,897 (10.4% increase). Supplies and materials: $2,270,629 (0.9% increase). Property services: $787,552 (15% increase). Equipment: $245,384 (2.7% decrease). Dues and fees: $134,042 (6.4% increase). The proposed budget includes funding for four new Wilton High School course and funding for an alternative school program for seventh through 12th graders. It also takes the following into account: Projected teacher salaries increase of 3%. Administrator salaries increase of 3.4%. Secretary and paraprofessional salaries increase of 2.3%. Custodian salaries increase of 2%. Utilities increase of 6%. Liability insurance costs increase of 5%. Transportation costs increase of 4%. Medical insurance costs decrease of 4.6%. Total salary increases will be partially offset by an approximate staff turnover of 3%, according to a budget goals and assumptions document Smith prepared back in November. Salaries and staffing Nearly 63% percent of the overall budget increase is driven by contracted salary increases and new full-time equivalent (FTE) staffing proposals, said Smith, whose proposed salaries budget reflects a $1,795,164 increase over the district\u2019s FY19 salaries budget. \u201cDespite the rather modest year-over-year increase, the proposal does request additional staffing,\u201d said Smith, whose budget proposes the following FTE increases: Secondary special education coordinator (1 FTE). Alternative school teachers (3.0 FTE). Job coaches for the district\u2019s Community Steps program (2.0 FTE). Kindergarten teacher (1.0 FTE). Part-time preschool teacher (0.5 FTE). Two part-time preschool paraprofessionals (0.75 FTE). Athletic trainer (0.5 FTE). His budget also includes the increased FTE for the district\u2019s digital learning director, from 0.3 FTE to 1.0 FTE. \u201cBudget-to-budget, this represents an increase of 7.5 FTE,\u201d said Smith. \u201cHowever, actual-to-budget, it represents a 5.09 FTE increase.\u201d Smith said the bulk of the increase is in special services and \u201creflects proposals for new or expanded programming, the alternative school, and additional coaches for the 18- to 21-year-old program.\u201d \u201cFrom a financial perspective, we\u2019re looking at additional special staffing really as opportunities for longer-term cost avoidance,\u201d said Smith, adding that he\u2019d like to address the staffing changes during the board\u2019s upcoming special education workshop on Thursday, Jan. 24. Other drivers The proposed $560,668 increase in professional services is \u201ctied up around technology, training and conferences,\u201d said Smith, and \u201ca small portion\u201d dedicated to independent educational evaluation (IEEs) in the special education budget. Smith\u2019s proposed insurance and benefits spending reflects a $1,093,300 decrease over the current budget, due to \u201creally favorable claims history\u201d and \u201creduced annual required contributions to OPEB and the pension trust,\u201d according to Smith. The proposed $510,063 decrease in other purchased services is driven by a reduction in public tuition. Smith said there are \u201cseveral sites\u201d where the district sometimes out-places students with special needs. \u201cOne program, ACES, we are not using in the coming year,\u201d he said. \u201cWe had students in that program and brought them back.\u201d Smith\u2019s request for supplies and materials reflects a $19,935 increase over the current budget and is driven by digital resources, some supplies for the alternative school proposal, and diesel fuel, he said. The proposed $103,475 increase in property services includes \u2014\u00a0but is not limited to \u2014 drainage repairs at Middlebrook and locker room tile replacement at the high school. Smith said \u201cno major changes\u201d have been made to the district\u2019s equipment budget, which reflects a $6,892 decrease over the current budget. The $8,057 increase in dues and fees, Smith said, is driven by the addition of \u201cone new subscription,\u201d as well as \u201csome other standard increases.\u201d Enrollment The superintendent\u2019s budget takes into account a projected K-12 enrollment of 3,835 students next school year\u00a0\u2014\u00a035 fewer students than reported in the district\u2019s official October 2018 enrollment report. \u201cWe have been and will continue to see a decline in total student enrollment,\u201d said Smith, \u201cand what that amounts to year-over-year is a net loss of 35 students [in kindergarten through 12th grade].\u201d Smith said the district intends to add a 13th kindergarten section, and the Miller-Driscoll Early Learning Center preschool program is projected to start next school year with 64 students. The district also anticipates having about 33 outplaced students, he said, and the Community Steps program for 18- to 21-year-olds is expected to have 10 students. Taking all these into account, Smith said, the district is projected to have a total of 3,942 students enrolled next year. Next steps A public presentation of the superintendent\u2019s proposed budget will take place Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. in the Middlebrook School Auditorium. Before then, the Board of Education will hold three budget workshops in the Wilton High School Professional Library, each beginning at 1: The workshop on Tuesday, Jan. 22, will focus on Miller-Driscoll, Cider Mill and Middlebrook. The workshop on Wednesday, Jan. 23, will focus on Wilton High School, digital learning and technology. The workshop on Thursday, Jan. 24, will focus on curriculum and instruction, the district and special education. The Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the superintendent\u2019s proposed budget on Thursday, Feb. 21.