Education funding may face added scrutiny
  Marianne Lippard, Register Correspondent       April 04, 2001

DERBY ó The $12.5 million budget proposed for the 2001-2002 school year is expected to face extra scrutiny this year due to a drop in test scores.

A number of staffing changes are contingent upon the new budget, which was approved last week by the Board of Education.

The proposed budget includes an increase of slightly more than $1 million, or 9.13 percent, above the current budget of $11.5 million.

Superintendent of Schools Martin Gotowala said his original $12.8 million budget request, presented to the Board of Education two weeks ago, was pared by $250,000 due to an anticipated rebate from the state for special education costs. 

Henry Domurad, chairman of the Board of Apportionment and Taxation, said he hasnít had a chance to see a copy of the school budget, and has yet to set a date for its review.

"Weíre open-minded, but we havenít seen a lot yet to justify increases," Domurad said. 

While the tax board tries to keep expenses down in all departments, the school system must justify putting more money into education after releasing disappointing test results on the Connecticut Mastery Test, Domurad said.

"We expected to see some improvement in test scores.  With the decline in test scores, the status quo is not working," Domurad said, noting the administration will need to use the money "differently."

Board of Education Chairman James Gildea said the proposed budget would allow the administration to address some weaknesses.

Funding is included to bring a part-time high school math instructor on to full staff.  The administration also wants to fill part-time positions for high school history and English as a foreign language instructors, and add a preschool special education teacher at Irving School. 
 < Strong proof reading is apparent at the Rergister ! -enm >

Other improvements would include hiring a library media aide and an assistant football coach
 < A definitive move to improve CMT results ! -enm >

Three department chairpersons also would be hired, Gildea said.  The department chair positions were gradually eliminated over the last 10 years. 

A new custodian and maintenance employee also could be hired if the proposed budget were adopted, Gildea said.

Although the tax board asked all city departments to try to hold off on any increases, Gildea said he feels the extra $1 million is necessary. 

"Based on potential grand list increases and the fact that Derby traditionally ranks at the bottom of the list in the state of Connecticut in regard to per pupil spending, I think that it is a reasonable increase," Gildea said. 

 < Is this the same tax board that endorsed a NEW $32 M school ? -enm >