School chief says budget increase unavoidable
 Derby superintendent asks for 11.7% boost
   By AMANDA CUDA            Wednesday, March 21, 2001

     DERBY -- Citing circumstances beyond his control, the superintendent of schools presented a budget for the 2001-02 fiscal year Tuesday that represents an 11.17 percent increase, roughly $1-million, over last year.

     Supt. Martin Gotowala based the $12,756,982 budget on rising insurance and salary costs. 

     "It was virtually impossible to do what we needed to do without an increase,"  he said. 

     Tax Board Chairman Henry Domurad had requested that preliminary budgets be submitted without any projected increases.

    According to Gotowala, the increase breaks down to:
* 60 percent for salaries that result from contractual obligations with the city's bargaining units that must be honored;
* 35 percent for rising insurance and transportation rates;
* less than 5 percent is due to non-fixed costs such as textbooks and other supplies.

     More increases could be on the horizon.

     A "transition grant" that is offered to schools where 40 percent or more of the students are at poverty level may be cut, he said, which would result in the loss of reading and drop-out prevention programs.

     Currently, Derby receives $250,000 under this state grant -- which is determined by the rate of free or reduced-price lunches.

     Gov. John G. Rowland's current budget for the coming fiscal year does not provide for a continuation of the grant, Gotowala said.

"This represents a very significant loss," he said.

     Gotowala and local legislator Sen. Joseph Crisco, D-Woodbridge, are working to push for the grant's continuation.

     James Gildea, president of the Board of Education, said workshops on the proposed budget will be held on Tuesday and Thursday of next week.  The board could vote on the budget Thursday.