A week after proposing an 8.38 percent increase for the 2012-13 budget, Windsor Locks Superintendent of Schools Wayne C. Sweeney has come up with a new spending plan proposal.
“I want to share another way in achieving everything but only in a five percent increase,” Sweeney said to the board of education at its meeting Thursday.
Sweeney said board members had expressed doubts about the original proposal and that caused him to think of another solution Wednesday night. He said he wrote down his ideas and then Thursday looked at the numbers with business manager Les Koziara before finalizing the proposal.
Under the new option, the school district will consider the proposed $252,306 increase in Education Cost Sharing as a credit; one teacher who holds a special districtwide assignment would be moved into a classroom where currently a full-time substitute works, and the districtwide position would not be refilled saving $87,831; the district’s yearly increase for insurance has been adjusted to 8.29 percent instead of 10 percent, saving $42,200; and the district’s contribution to the town’s self-funded retiree medical insurance plan has been reduced, saving $35,648.
Those changes reduce his proposed increase by $1,277,510.
The new proposed spending plan would put the budget a 5.25 percent increase to $28,797,435, official said.
To achieve some curriculum initiatives, Sweeney is proposing that class sizes increase in , and l as one class from each section is eliminated. The class sizes would increase to about 22 to 24 students per room. There would be no reduction in kindergarten aids, Sweeney said.
No similar changes have been proposed for because of the complexity of the class schedules, Sweeney said. Principal Sharon Cournoyer said they are considering options.
The eliminated sections would allow for the creation of nine new positions at the schools. Those teachers would work as specialists who could help students who aren’t meeting competency requirements, Sweeney said. Officials would possibly allow all of the teachers to apply for the new positions, he added.
“We’re not eliminating the people, just shifting the staffing,” Sweeney said.
They would work under the same contract as every other teacher but they’d work 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., October through July, Sweeney said. The teachers could work after school with students Tuesday through Thursday to help students are reaching competency, he added.
The schedule would also allow the teachers to work with students, who can’t make the district’s requirements in the regular 181 days of the school year, with a few more days study time during the summer, Sweeney said.
Sweeney said to make the proposal work he has to meet with the leadership of the Windsor Locks Teachers Association. He will contact them Friday. He said he will show that his proposal saves teacher positions while reduce the amount of the budget increase.
The alternative to reducing the budget would likely be cutting staff members because there is nowhere else to cut, officials said.
“I’m optimistic,” Sweeney said. “I believe our teacher colleagues will agree to it.”
Board members said they like the proposal but are reluctant to approve it without the support of the teacher’s union. They gave Sweeney their support to speak with union representatives about the proposal.
Sweeney told the principals and assistant principals about his new proposal shortly before the board of education meeting. They all support the proposal, he added.
Susan Bell, Windsor Locks Middle School assistant principal, said the proposal is a good one if they are able to retain the staff and continue the good work they’ve been doing this year.
Windsor Locks High School Principal Sharon Cournoyer said she supports the proposal.
“I think it takes the conversation to the next level,” Cournoyer said.
Board member Scott Storms said he supports the proposal because the alternative would lose staff and that would destroy the schools’ efforts thus far. He said school officials have to convince the board of finance and townspeople to support their budget, he said.
“I think our job is to go in and say we are using the dollars the best that we could and it moves us forward,” Storms said.
Board Chairwoman Patricia King said she was prepared to ask Sweeney to come back to the board with cuts of 1 percent, 2 percent and 3 percent of his original proposal.
“I can support this,” King said.
King also said that she would like to see the district have forums on the proposal to get public input.
Sweeney said if the board approves his proposal it will be his job to sell it to the public and the board of finance.