Common Core, Safety Leads Superintendent to Push for 3.59 Percent Increase

Southington School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr. said the state mandates, safety initiatives, the needs of exceptional students and technology will all be addressed if the town were to approve the $87.26 million request.

Southington schools will workwith a superintendent's budget calling for a 3.59 percent increase in 2014-15. (Credit: Jason Vallee)
Southington schools will workwith a superintendent's budget calling for a 3.59 percent increase in 2014-15. (Credit: Jason Vallee)
Southington Board of Education members could have a tall task ahead of them as they look to pare down an administrative budget request that includes the second lowest percentage increase in the past decade while still addressing growing needs set forth by Common Core, teacher evaluations and more.

School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr. on Monday released details of his budget request for the 2014-15 school year, asking for $87.26 million in funding representing a 3.59 percent increase. The increase, which centers around addressing needs to meet the state’s newly implemented Common Core standards, represents a $3 million increase over the current operating budget of $84.23 million.

“This proposed superintendent’s budget maintains the core of our existing program and also includes initiatives that are needed resources because of our statutory obligations to the Teacher Evaluation Plan and to the Common Core State Standard, and to the needs of the district’s exceptional learners,” Erardi told board members in an introduction letter.

“In addition, the budget reflects the continued support of technology with dedicated funds to phase two of a three-year technology plan,” he said.

The budget includes restoring funding previously cut for library media specialists for the middle schools, as well as part-time numeracy and literary positions at the town’s middle schools. In addition, the request calls for approximately 13 new staffing positions throughout the district, some split part-time and others full-time, to meet needs set forth by the state.

Despite the request for an additional $3 million, the overall percentage increase represents the lowest request for additional funding since 2011 and the second lowest in over 15 years.

Position requests included the following:

  • An additional 1.0 FTE has been proposed at an expense of $54,150 to support the return of a 0.5 Library Media Specialist at both middle schools.
  • An additional 1.0 FTE has been proposed at an expense of $54,150 to support numeracy (0.5 at Kennedy) and literacy (0.5 at DePaolo).

New staffing would include:

  • An additional 1.0 FTE administrator at an expense of $113,640 to support the additional responsibilities within pupil services.
  • Four (4) additional FTE teaching positions to assume the responsibility of Teacher Leader at a cost of $187,000.
  • An additional 0.5 FTE to offer all Southington High School students access to career counseling at a cost of $27,075.
  • An additional 1.5 FTE of certified special education staff to support the expanding secondary school specialized program (EASE) that will expand to Southington High School.
  • An additional 1.0 FTE central office secretary at a cost of $44,004 to assist the district’s leadership team in meeting the local, state, and federal demands presently bestowed on the Board of Education.
  • An additional 1.0 FTE in paraprofessional support staff to enhance supervision and coverage within the Southington High School In-School Suspension room.
  • An additional 1.0 FTE (grant funded) Security Guard for the Ag-Science Center.
  • Increase the Director of Athletics Executive Assistant to full-time at a cost of $7,000.

Within the Technology Department, the following staff have been requested:

  • Increase the Director of Technology’s Assistant to full-time at a cost of $8,888.
  • Add a management level position at a cost of $65,000 to have oversight of the Southington Public Schools K-12 network.
  • Add an additional full-time Technology Assistant (grant funded) to support the Ag-Science Center at a cost of $18,900.

Board of Education Chairman Brian Goralski said Monday that he sees the budget presented as a “responsible and respectful budget,” noting that the board will learn more during the officials presentation, scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday evening.

Goralski said the board will have a tough task, balancing the budget to meet the needs of growing mandates such as the Common Core standard, while still being mindful to the taxpayers and economy. He said he believes the budget presented provides a good starting point and would comment further after hearing from Erardi and administrators on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s workshop, to be held at the Southington Municipal Center, will be open to the public but will not include public comment, he said. The public will have the chance to comment prior to the Board of Education voting on changes at their meeting later this month.

“It is my belief that this proposed budget represents the program priorities and the long term vision set forth by (the board) and also represents a plan that continues to maintain and enhance the needed resources for all children,” Erardi said.

“I believe this budget sends a consistent message to all stakeholders that additional hands are needed within all levels of the organization.”

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