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Easton School Board To Scrutinize Budget

EASTON, Conn. – Easton residents will be able to voice their opinions on the proposed $15.58 million education budget during Thursday night’s Board of Education meeting.

Superintendent Bernard Josefsberg's plan represents a 4.13 percent increase, or $617,638, over this year’s budget of $14,962,405. The budget covers only Helen Keller Middle School and Samuel Staples Elementary School .

Josefsberg said the budget is “very tight” and will mainly restore items that were cut over the years. Those items include a math specialist at Helen Keller, which would cost $41,953; a part-time art teacher at Samuel Staples, which would cost $22,752; and $19,168 for new laboratory equipment at Helen Keller Middle School.

The budget also provide for the hiring of a K-8 STEM specialist, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math. This position would be for both Easton and Redding school districts and cost the Easton district an additional $40,000.

Maintenance work at Helen Keller under Josefsberg’s proposal includes $2,500 for classroom painting, $4,500 to install an office panic button, $4,000 for additional lockers and $8,000 for driveway and parking lot repairs.

Josefsberg’s spending plan also includes a $158,855 increase for special education funding and $23,443 to install a wireless network at Samuel Staples Elementary School.

When asked to comment on the budget, Easton Board of Education Chairman Dan Underberger said Wednesday: “We are facing many very difficult discussions about how to best allocate funds to provide the best quality of education for every student. There are programs we are trying to slowly restore, educational initiatives we are looking to move forward with, facility issues that need to be addressed and a large increase in anticipated Special Education expenditures.”

“Given the current economic climate, we can't do them all – we need to look to other areas to cut costs, improve the way we are doing things or put off the restoration/improvements for now,” he said.

This will be the first time since Josefsberg unveiled his budget on Jan. 10 that board members and residents will openly discuss the matter. Although it is not likely, according to the Board of Education agenda, the board could vote to approve the budget Thursday night.

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