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Easton School Spending Plan Faces Cuts

EASTON, Conn. – Cuts will made in the proposed school budget , according to Board of Education Chairman Dan Underberger , who said the Board of Finance is requesting that all budget requests in Easton are at or below a 3 percent increase.

Underberger said he received a letter last week from the Board of Finance stating its request. The proposed school budget is at $15.58 million, which represents a 4.13 percent increase from last year. The board must make cuts before the budget hearings in March.

“Personally, I don’t think 3 percent is going to fly, either," he said. "There will be cuts made to this budget, and there may be significant cuts to the budget."

The budget covers only Helen Keller Middle School and Samuel Staples Elementary School .

Underberger said Thursday's Board of Education meeting was not about voting immediately. He said it was a chance for board members and the administration to “dive deep” into the spending plan.

Board members focused on looking into what Superintendent Bernard Josefsberg calls “restorations” to the budget, which includes a math specialist at Helen Keller for $41,953 and the hiring of a specialist in K-8 STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math, for $40,000. This position would be shared between Easton and Redding.

School board member Regina Bobroske asked for a clarification on the math specialist and why it was so costly. According to Sue Kaplan, principal at Samuel Staples Elementary School, the specialist would “help to facilitate instruction in the classroom” and help students “understand the concepts of math and become better problem solvers.”

Josefsberg told the board that that STEM teacher would work as “an instructional coach” for both the teachers and the students. “It is a person who needs to know how to think interdisciplinary.”

A majority of the board also questioned the $23,443 budgeted to install a wireless network at Samuel Staples. Peggy Sullivan, director of finance and operations, said that was an error and should only cost $10,000 to install. Board members suggested various ways to cut costs, including designating certain areas of the school as Wi-Fi zones, instead of the whole school.

Since the next Easton Board of Education meeting is not scheduled until Feb. 14, Underberger suggested that members take their time with the proposed spending plan. They should go “line item by line item” because the board could not “move forward with a 4.1 budget,” he said.

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