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Westport School Chief Seeks $2.68M More for Budget

Maintaining the educational services Westport children are accustomed to: That's the goal Superintendent Elliott Landon has for the 2011-12 school year. That's why he proposed a 2.79 percent budget increase Tuesday night to the Board of Education.

The school budget for the current fiscal year is slightly more than $96 million. A 2.79 percent increase would bring the budget to $98.76 million, an increase of more than $2.68 million.

"I don't think that's excessive," Landon said. "What I've given you is a status quo budget and even that is not status quo: it's continuing what we've had."

Over the last two years, Landon said, the school budget has come in "far less" than what was requested. And although he said the appropriations were just enough to keep the schools running effectively, there have been small but negative side effects.

For starters, the school system underwent massive layoffs that touched every category, Landon said. Because of that, the breakpoint for class sizes has increased to an average of 24 to 25 students, versus 21 to 22 in past years. Also, building projects, except those that deal with student health and safety, have taken a back seat.

Although his proposed budget shows an increase, Landon said it's necessary. "We've done what we could to hold costs at a minimum without doing damage to the system," he said.

In his proposed budget, salaries, benefits and equipment see increases: $65.48 million is recommended for salaries, $15.5 million for benefits and about $1.3 million for equipment.

The Board of Education will meet Friday for an all-day budgetary meeting.

Would you like to see an increase in the school system budget? Why or why not? Leave a comment below!

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