BOE Budget Update

Last night the Board of Education held a meeting to discuss the Superintendent’s proposed approach to the budget given the reductions that have been made so far.

The Superintendent’s original proposed 2015-2016 budget represented an overall budget increase of 3.28%, or $2,140,269. The total proposed budget was $67,360,942.

At the Board level a vote was taken to add $500,000 to this number, making the budget presented to the Council $67,860,942.

The Superintendent presented to the Council that he was able to realize savings in certain areas after the Board voted on the budget, so that in fact he would need $635,000 less than he originally requested. This made the first referendum BOE budget $67,225,942.

Since the first referendum the Town Council has reduced $750,000 from the BOE requested budget.

Based on this reduction the Superintendent has proposed reducing the following positions from the general budget:

12 Kindergarten paraprofessionals
1 Sage Park PE teacher
1 Literacy Interventionist
1 Remedial Math Teacher Grades 3-5
1 FTE Reading Teacher Grades K-2
Additional Funds for Security/Residency

However, the Superintendent shared that he would be able to fund the following positions through the Alliance Grant:

1 FTE Reading Teacher Grades K-2
2 FTE Remedial Math Teachers Grades 3-5
2 Preschool paraprofessionals
Additional UConn Literacy Support in the amount of $30,000

The cumulative effect of this is that, of the reduced positions/funding areas, the only actual reductions are the 12 Kindergarten paraprofessionals, the Sage Park PE teacher, the Literacy Interventionist, and the additional funds for security/residency. The PE teacher and Literacy Interventionist are reductions through attrition, meaning no layoffs will occur at this time to accomplish these reductions.

Further, in the current proposal, there is an additional $30,000 of funding added for UConn Literacy Support, and an additional Remedial Math Teacher over what was proposed in the original adopted BOE budget.

The net result of the reductions so far is that we are, essentially, back to the Superintendent’s original proposed budget before $500,000 was added in by the BOE – with the exception of one fewer PE teacher and Literacy Interventionist (through attrition) but now adding a Remedial Math Teacher, 2 additional PreK paraprofessionals and additional UConn Literacy Support. An outline of the Superintendent’s original budget proposal can be found in the earlier post 2015-2016 Budget Highlights.

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8 comments

  1. Seriously? This is ridiculous! Removing the paras out of kindergarten is the biggest mistake the BOE can make. Put that grant money to keeping the paras in the classroom to help support teachers & STUDENTS!! I thought the BOE got that message loud and clear. I am so disappointed – mostly for the students.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What? It is again proposed to cut kindergarten paras from the budget! I was at every single meeting of the BOE including Finance Committee Meetings and at EVERY meeting it was stated by the public, the teachers and BOE members how vital the k paras are to the k classrooms! Why is no one listening!!!!! Why are the k paras the easy out for these cuts? Ridiculous!! Why are the people working closest to the children (other then the teachers ) always the first ones to be cut? Can someone answer this question ?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Paula,

        Thank you for commenting. I appreciate you taking the time to read our blog!!

        Just to note, my response in no way reflects the opinion of the Windsor Board of Education, or the Distict. I am commenting as an individual.

        As it was discussed last night, the rationale for cutting the paras is that two additional kindergarten classrooms the ratios will be between 13-14 kiddos per class and with this number of kids, it is anticipated by the Superintendent, that the single kindergarten teacher will be capable of managing the class without the need for an additional adult in the room. Also, the Superintendent assured the Board that the students would not be negatively impacted by this adjustment.

        I expressed my concern and asked for at least 6 paras to remain in the adjusted budget to enable the students to have access to consistent, trusted, adults who can assist in the social-emotional support that so many of our youngsters need as they transition to into a more rigorous classroom environment.

        As it was stated by another Board member in reply to my request, “we should have thought about this before advocating against the budget.” In no way did our objection to the originally proposed budget imply that we were in favor of reducing paras. We need paras and the theory of reducing ratios to eliminate paras is another model being tested on our children. This is unacceptable.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Michaela,

        No one has ANY idea unless you are there, how essential k paras are to classroom! To say that if with the addition of 2 kindergarten classrooms and bringing the count per room to 13 or 14 and with no extra support at all is the right way to go FOR THE BEST OF THE STUDENTS is a pipe dream! I agree with you that keeping 6 or 7 would the smarter move- for the continued support for the children. What is this all about really? Iscit really about the students….. I wonder!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I believe that the paras had support from most of the BOE members & were looking for cuts to be made elsewhere in the budget. Does Dr Cooke really think by having an extra K teacher and a class size of 14 is the answer? What about when new students arrive throughout the school year (and they do) & class size increases? Are you going to hire another K teacher? I did invite any member to spend an entire day in kindergarten with a para and then another day without a para. Not one member took my offer. This past school year I worked as a para with 15 students. That is close to the class size Dr Cooke envisions. There is no way that every child’s educational needs & emotional needs would be met with just one teacher in the room. Never mind the socio-emotional piece that is extremely important; but the EDUCATIONAL role we play. We are not glorified babysitters. We are the other EDUCATOR in the very foundation that we are laying ground for our students. I cringe at the thought of no added support in kindergarten. Did Dr Cooke actually listen to anyone that made statements on behalf of paras? Or is he just crunching numbers? We are the low men on the totem pole & we’re always the first to be put on the chopping block. Personally I think there are too many chiefs……

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jennie – Thanks so much for following this post and contributing!

      I agree that many of the Board members supported the need for Kindergarten paras to remain in the budget. I can’t recall anyone speaking in favor of the reduction at any finance committee meeting or the full board meeting when the budget was adopted.

      I obviously can’t speak to what Dr. Cooke is thinking, however I do believe he has the best intentions for the students in mind.

      Based on the discussions that we have had on this topic, it appears that this is more of a clash of philosophies.

      There is a growing belief that is supported through a number of research studies that lowering the teacher to student ratio is an effective approach to increasing academic performance. I have to wonder, at what cost?

      I heard paras speak the strongest to their role in factors such as social-emotional-behavioral support.

      The question is, with a teacher to student ratio of 1:14 better than 1 compassionate and well trained adults to everyone 9 of our little ones as they are forced to adjust to an increasingly rigorous classroom environment at a younger and younger age.

      I can only speak to what I have experienced as a mom of three sons ranging from 1-9 years of age, but I know that when they have friends over that I am more than grateful to have an extra pair of hands, eyes, and insight as they attempt to make sense of their world.

      One community member gave a wonderful example of what it’s like to have our little ones going to the bathroom in a building that they are unfamiliar with. She spoke to the fact that they often get lost, and sometimes become fearful. Without having another adult figure who can form a trusted bond with that young child through a consistent presence, we are jeopardizing the natural protective factors that will buffer any negative experiences that the child may experience during their development.

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  3. I can’t believe that cutting the kindergarten paraprofessionals is on the table. We ask SO much of our kindergarteners these days. We have children as young as 4 who are expected to go all day with a 20-minute recess, follow directions, adjust to a large classroom setting and unfamiliar large building, AND learn to read. Can we not see that providing other resources such as a reading teacher, while valuable for sure, mean little if our children can’t even stay on task or focused in the classroom? The kindergarten of 30 years ago, of a half-day consisting of play centers, snack, and learning letters, is long gone. Kindergarten paraprofessionals are VITAL to our kids’ success.

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