In presenting a proposed $24.5 million budget for the 2013-2014 school year, superintendent Kevin Case is recommending some new initiatives, including a school resource officer and the return of interscholastic girls and boys basketball at Canton Middle School.
The $24,571,072 proposal represents a $1,130,670 or 4.82 percent increase over the approved 2012-2013 spending plan of $23,440,402.
Faced with more than $1.2 million in contractual increases and $634,356 of additional requests from school administrators, Case said he reduced $752,710 from everything requested.
Wednesday night, Case presented an overview of the plan to the Board of Education and detailed some cuts, new initiatives and areas funded by grants.
One focus is safety. After the Newtown shootings security audits were conducted at every school. While “confident” in security measures, one proposal Case has made is to add a school resource officer, who would spend time at each school but especially the middle/high school campus. The position would be as much about supporting the students as it is safety, he said.
“It’s so important to have a officer in our school to establish those relationships with the students early on,” Case said.
He is proposing $85,000 in the budget, which would cover most of the position. The hope is to flush out the costs and perhaps obtain some grant funding to cover any additional cost to the position, Case said.
The officer would work with school monitors, who are already funded in the budget but would perhaps have some changes in job description, Case said.
Case has also detailed $200,000 in new security initiatives not actually in the proposal, such as $100,000 for an enhanced camera system, as well as a automated sound and light system, exterior card reader, locks, blinds, outside door replacement and additional lighting and the Canton Middle/High School campus.
Case said those items are not included in his proposed budget but rather he hopes they can be funded through savings in the current budget or through grants.
Other new initiatives include a proposal to fund $8,000 toward girls lacrosse and girls volleyball. Those programs cost a little less than $30,000 and Case said his plan is to gradually take them from privately funded to school funded over a three-year period. The elimination of privately funded sports was one recommendation of a recent study of school sports.
Other initiatives in the budget include the return of interscholastic boys and girls basketball at the middle school, instructional materials to help the district align with common core state standards, funding for pension and employee insurance and $185,000 in capital costs, including deferred and real-time maintenance for the proposed track and field, some floor replacement projects at Canton Intermediate School and Cherry Brook, high school cafeteria line changes, ADA compliance changes to the CIS entrance and front walkway repair at Cherry Brook.
Case also detailed some items he did not include in the budget. One is a .2 Chinese teacher. The high school is still hoping to offer Mandarin but is exploring a virtual class or software-based options.
Also on hold is a $37,000 wireless project at Cherry Brook. In addition, 8 to-be-determined non-certified positions will be eliminated under the proposal.
Case also detailed a few programs that he has proposed remain at the schools but be funded by the open choice grant the school receives for accepting Hartford students. Those include summer school at CIS and cherry Brook for $14,578, the Canton Academy alternative school at $47,000, $14,000 worth of tablets for Cherry Brook and magnet school tuition for $125,000.
The Board of Education will hold a meeting and hearing on the proposed budget at 7 p.m. on Feb. 26 in the Canton Community Center. On Feb. 28, Case will make budget presentations at CIS (7:30 a.m.) the community center (10 a.m. ) and Cherry Brook Primary School (2 p.m.)
The board is also interested in hearing from anyone who wants to host a home-based budget information session. Those interested can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call Sue McDonald in the call central office at (860) 693-7704
The school board is expected to adopt a proposed budget on March 5 at 7 p.m.
Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner has also released his proposed budget, a plan the Board of Selectmen is still reviewing.
For further budget dates click here.