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School Board Approves $98.3M Budget (Updated)

Updated 2/1/11 at 3 p.m.: Westport Public Schools might have more than $2 million more to spend in the 2011-12 school year — if the Board of Finance approves the Board of Education's proposed budget.

On Monday night, the school board unanimously approved an operating budget of $98.3 million for the next fiscal year. This amount is $415,000 lighter than the $98.76 million budget Superintendent Elliot Landon presented to the board Jan. 4.

Since Landon presented his proposed budget, Board of Education Chairman Don O'Day said the board met at least six or seven times to discuss it. During these meetings, board members cut $116,000 from salaries by adjusting elementary teaching staff according to school enrollment, meaning two staff positions were cut.

But these cuts won't jeopardize the quality of education, Landon said. "The Board of Education has not changed its class size guidelines nor its class size break points," he said. "In fact, this budget also includes four kindergarten sections in everyone one of our schools. We've also included in this number three reserve teachers in case we get into a bind any place where we're so close on class size numbers. We do have the ability to add teachers if we need them. If we don't need them, we return those funds to the town."

Additionally, $114,000 was cut from benefits by adjusting health insurance, $50,000 from property services by allocating electricity costs and $135,417 from equipment by allocating technology costs.

Although the board's budget is less than Landon's proposal, it's still a 2.36 percent increase over the current fiscal year budget of $96.07 million.

However, this doesn't mean parents and students should expect to see any major upgrades: It's just enough to maintain current educational services. "This budget will not cover our contractual increases plus the increases in special education," O'Day said.

This budget request will go before the Board of Finance this month. Whatever budget the finance board approves will then go before the Representative Town Meeting, the town's legislative body.

Are you happy with the number the Board of Education came up with? Or do you think the districts operating budget should be more? Share your thoughts below!

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