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Westport Schools Seek $2M Budget Increase

WESTPORT, Conn. – The Westport school district may have $2 million more to spend next year if Superintendent Elliott Landon's proposed budget is approved as is by the Board of Education. His proposed $100.5 million budget represents a 2.5 percent increase over the current budget.

Despite the proposed increase, however, there will be a net loss of 4.2 teaching positions — four full time and one part time, said Assistant Superintendent of Business Nancy Harris. These reductions are based on projected school enrollments, Harris told the board Tuesday night.

"Enrollment is the heart and soul of this budget. If enrollment goes up, we add teachers," Harris said. "If it goes down, we remove teachers."

A five-year enrollment projection by the New England School Development Council presented to the Board of Education last month says enrollment at the high school will increase while enrollment in the elementary schools will decrease.

As such, Harris said the reductions would be made at the elementary level. At Coleytown Elementary, two positions would be eliminated. At Green's Farms School, three positions would be cut. At Kings Highway, 1.2 positions would be eliminated, 1.5 positions at Long Lots and 1.4 positions at Saugatuck School.

But the budget would allow for additions at Staples. Harris said the administration is seeking to increase staff at the high school by 2.8 positions. However, she said some of the staffing is "not new" but would rather be the result of transfers from Coleytown Middle and Green's Farms.

Anticipating a decrease in federal funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federally mandated program that serves students with severe disabilities, Harris said two positions from that grant program would be transferred to the district's general fund. This, she said, would result in the "'elimination'" of two more teaching positions.

"But it's just a change," she said. "They'll be no actual loss of jobs there."

Although Landon is seeking $100,543,382 in spending — a $2,448,264 increase over the current year's budget of $98,239,956 — he said his proposed budget is "very, very tight" and does nothing more than maintain the district's education programs.

Of the proposed budget, Harris said 82 percent of the money would go to salaries and benefits.

The 2012-13 proposed budget packet is available for viewing on the district's website.

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