Budget cuts: Schools trim $257,000

The school district has some budget work to do if it wants to meet the state-imposed 2.5% municipal spending cap for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

That’s why Ridgefield Superintendent Karen Baldwin cut $256,719 from the 2017-2018 school budget at the Board of Education meeting Monday night.

In her presentation to the board, Dr. Baldwin said that three paraeducators would be let go at the end of the year, resulting in $66,000 in savings.

Other savings that the board approved Monday include: $64,000 in projects, $20,000 in management consultants and $50,000 in increased teacher turnover.

Monday’s reduction brings the proposed budget down to $94,442,556 — a 4.5% increase from last year’s $90,374,229 budget.

Dr. Baldwin has also proposed the following budget cuts Monday: $120,000 in tuition, $152,000 in library personnel, and $43,636 in equipment.

The board will review these cuts — and several others — at its next meeting Monday, Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall Annex.  .

If approved, the additional cuts could save the schools $524,469 and bring the proposed budget down to $93,918,087 — a 3.9% increase from what voters approved to spend last spring.

That still won’t be enough to meet the state cap though.

Dr. Baldwin and her staff need to shave off an additional $352,419 to get the 2017-18 budget increase down to 3.5%.

Paul Hendrickson, the district’s business manager, told The Press Tuesday that 1% of the district’s proposed budget increase stems from special education costs, which are exempt under the state cap.

Hendrickson said if the district is able to reach a 3.5% total increase they will be able to meet the municipal cap.

Board chair Fran Walton said Monday night that ignoring the 2.5% municipal spending cap is not an option.

Redistricting

Dr. Baldwin said Monday that redistricting the district’s six elementary schools to create an even split between both middle schools could represent additional savings — only if it is applied without grandfathering students.

The superintendent said this option needs to be explored further before making any decisions.

Dr. Baldwin also said there are a few other places where the district can garner savings, including $50,000 in transportation costs following the bus route study that Education Logistics was hired to complete at a Jan. 26 education board meeting.