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2018/19 Budget Q & A

If we had a surplus last year, why is the budget not reduced for 2018-19? Should we expect to have a surplus of $500,000 in the 2018-19 year?

We anticipate our surplus to be $275,000 in this current year. This is because of the unbudgeted revenue for the Special Education grant, which we were advised by the state in May 2017 not to expect.

Why did the consultant fees in the Pupil Services’ line increase from $27,000 to $40,000?
This line item is entirely for Special Education professionals (named “consultants” in this line item) who are hired for services that we do not provide in our region. This year, it included a teacher to provide specialized reading training, payments to consulting psychiatrists for student assessment, and assistive technology services. Payments for third party Medicaid billing also comes from this line. Special Education services are provided for all seven schools in Region One and we are not able to anticipate this need in advance. When a student requires a specialized service, by special education law, we must provide this.

 What is the cost of the regional newsletter?
The cost for the printing is under $1,000 a year. The region prints 100 color hard copies four times a year and places these in local businesses. None are mailed. The communication of the newsletter is primarily electronic. The cost of formatting the newsletter into one that can be   published is roughly $7,000 a year. We use a local person to do that work, as we do not have teaching or clerical staff with the skills or time.

Why is there an increase in regional attorney fees?
Our High School attorney fees in 2017-18 have exceeded our budget. This was due to the fact that two contracts, for both the certified and non-certified staff, were negotiated this year.  

We cut the allocation for legal services in the 2018-19 Regional budget. The RSSC budget shows a reduction of $6,000.

This number does increase when unexpected legal issues arise, as it often requires a phone call or meeting with an attorney.

Is there an increase in the superintendent budget for professional development and for travel?
The professional development budget went from $4,070 in 2017-18 to $8,070 in the new budget. This budget is for both the Assistant Superintendent and the Superintendent for registration fees and travel to attend conferences or workshops. Many of these are held in Connecticut, still with a cost. As a new Assistant Superintendent, Ms. Carter attended more conferences this year, as these were essential to help prepare her for a new position.

Prior to this current year, there was funding in the budget to pay for the tuition costs of graduate level course work for the former superintendent, in lieu of attending national conferences or workshops.

It is expected that all administrators in the region will attend conferences to stay informed about recent programs, legal matters, and educational topics. This is standard practice in all schools for administrators.

Each of the seven schools has funding in their budgets for their principal’s professional development.

There is frequent travel for both the Superintendent and the Assistant Superintendent who use their personal vehicles to travel to and from the schools and are reimbursed mileage. The travel line increased by $1,000.

What is the budget for the High School teachers for Professional Development?
There are several budgets that the High School uses for professional development.

Line 66: In-Service Training: In 2017-18, the In-Service Training line was budgeted at $18,500. The proposed 2018-19 budget increases this line to $19,425 (5%).

These are additional funding sources, that are allocated to the High School teaching staff to use for professional development:

Title II -    $13,108

REAP -     $24,645

Title IV -   $10,000

To also support professional learning, there is money in the substitute teacher line item that is used, so teachers are able to attend conferences and workshops.

Why was more money spent on Professional Development in 2016-17? 
We did overspend the PD budget for 16-17, with Board approval. We had remaining funds at the end of the year and we knew there was a need to provide training for both administrators and teachers in learning the use of the new teacher evaluation instrument. The additional funds were used to train all of the administrators and teachers who volunteered to begin to assist in teacher evaluations. This training requires outside expertise and requires at least three days for each administrator and teacher during the school year. This is the program used to conduct fair and quality teacher evaluations, which is essential to improving instruction. Since the money was available, we were able to do this.