WILTON, Conn. — With contractual and special education spending increases on tap for next year, the Wilton Board of Education has approved a $79.58 million operating budget for the 2014-15 school year. That’s 4.52 percent more than the current year’s spending.
The proposed $79,584,689 spending package exceeds the 1.75 percent maximum increase recommended by the Board of Finance. But it’s down from the original budget proposed by Superintendent Gary Richards— which represented a 5.42 increase.
“While on the surface our 4.52 percent increase may appear excessive, I am confident that once our Board of Finance colleagues have a chance to delve into our numbers, they will understand that our budget is very lean and responsible,” Board of Education Chairman Bruce Likly said.
A number of factors are responsible for the budget hike, mainly contractual and special education spending obligations, and security expenditures, Likly said. These three categories together, he said, account for 3.58 percent of the 4.52 percent increase.
Specifically, contractual obligations— which include staff salaries and benefits— account for a 1.78 increase in the overall budget. Special education obligations, which include providing services for students’ with complex learning and functional needs, accounts for a 1.48 percent increase. Finally, security expenditures account for a .32 percent increase to the overall budget.
Aside from these mandatory costs, Likly said the budget also allows for a 0.94 percent increase in discretionary spending, which includes technology, curriculum, new textbooks and athletics.
“The budget we passed is very lean but is able to accomplish a great deal by redeploying current resources,” Likly said. “For example, a new AP Computer Science course will be offered at Wilton High School but will not require additional headcount.”
The approved budget also maintains class sizes that fall within Board of Education guidelines.
“Small class sizes are vital to productive learning, and something our community values greatly,” he said. “The administration does an admirable job of balancing class sizes, but we do need to remain vigilant, as some of our classes and course sections are exceeding our upper guidelines.”
The adopted schools budget will be reviewed and voted on by the Board of Finance in coming weeks.