Ridgefield superintendent proposes nearly $103.4 million budget

Ridgefield Superintendent of Schools Susie Da Silva

Ridgefield Superintendent of Schools Susie Da Silva

Contributed photo / Hearst Connecticut Media

RIDGEFIELD — Superintendent Susie Da Silva is proposing a nearly $103.4 million budget, which is $3.45 million, or 3.45 percent, more than the current year.

Salaries and employee benefits will see an increase in the 2021-2022 school year, with certified salaries making up 60 percent of the budget. Transportation and supplies and equipment also have an increase, according to the superintendent's proposed budget.

Special education will see no change for next year.

Contracted services is the only category to see a decrease from the current year, going from about $2.85 million to $2.4 million. This is about $434,000 or 15.25 percent less.

Some budget additions include a special education teacher, more hours for supervisory paraeducators, a curriculum position, personal protective equipment for COVID, substitutes, as well as hardware and equipment for technology.

Some budget reductions include a paraeducator, elementary curriculum lead stipends, Math 180 at the middle schools, equipment replacement at the high school, club stipends, legal costs for special education, professional education services. Facilities and technology will also see some cuts.

Across the district, enrollment is currently is at about 4,560 with projections showing about 4,440 students for the 2021-2022 school year.

Ridgefield spends about $19,550 per student, the second lowest in its district reference group, based on an unaudited spending comparison of expenditures per student,

The budget prioritizes a foundation, protects the experience, prepares for the knowns, plans to mitigate risk and sets the stage for future innovation and creativity and world class education, according to the presentation.

The presentation also looks at the public health impact within the schools, including how the pandemic caused schools to transform overnight. It says students have experienced the greatest health crisis of their lifetime and there could be “significant impacts” on social, emotional and academic learning not only for one year, but for years to come.

“The residual impact of the public health crisis on students and schools is likely to be substantial,” according to the presentation.

The administration believes they owe students an assured experience across schools, grades and classrooms, and not even the excuse of a global pandemic relieves the district of this obligation, according to the presentation.

“The Superintendent’s proposed budget provides consistency and predictability for students, faculty and staff, with the focus on a high quality, assured social, emotional, and academic experience for all learners,” the presentation said. “The budget fortifies the district’s foundation and sets the district up for future growth and innovation.”

The board will host a public hearing on Zoom at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

gmarku@darientimes.com