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By Kim Becker
The new year rings in the beginning of the budget process for the board of education. Superintendent of Granby Public Schools Alan Addley presented the BOE with the Plus One, a five-year budget projection.
Given the sharp decline in state funding, including cuts to Education Cost Sharing and the Academic and Social Support grant, Granby will lose $180,000. This funding directly supported programs like all-day kindergarten, summer school, and integrated preschool. Though the board has been systematically moving these costs to the operating budget, the loss of funding will impact student services.
The Plus One projections show the district in maintenance mode. With no new initiatives, the FY18 budget bolsters work on the math program, services for students with special needs, brings an Enrichment/STEAM coach to the middle school, supports football and other sports needs, and funds Chromebook carts for each classroom in grades 3-5.
The administration also needs to adjust some of the cuts made when Kearns School closed. Added into the FY18 Plus One budget are a maintenance worker and an additional day of nursing support. The maintenance worker will address both preventative maintenance and staff work orders while the additional contractual day for nursing will allow the nurse supervisor more time for her duties, instead of performing direct care.
Addley identified three projects that need immediate attention as they are safety hazards. The Board agreed to move them into the small capital budget in order to move quickly. The projects include: repair and possibly replace the sidewalk at the high school’s main entrance; replace the section of wooden roof tiles on the high school with vinyl tiles; and repair or replace the back stairs at the middle school.
In Fiscal Years 2019-2022, Addley expects to lose 5.5 classroom teachers as enrollment declines. In these years, Addley also hopes to implement a strings music program and expand world languages to include Chinese at the middle school and French to grades 3-5, as well as a language lab to improve students’ conversational skills. Most of these expenditures would be offset by the reduction in teaching staff.
The Plus One budget calls for an increase of 2.94 percent in FY18, 3.77 percent in FY19, and 2.75 percent in FY20-22. The Board of Finance will make its budget guideline recommendations for both the Board of Education and the Board of Selectmen at the three-board meeting on Jan. 23.
Standardized test scores in math have declined across the district since 2012. Last year, the district began the process of implementing Eureka math in grades 3-6. In FY18, the District wants to continue the program at the primary level and up to grade 7. Additionally, the controversial Algebra I in grade 8 will be modified for struggling students. The Board approved a track that allows students to take Algebra IA in 8th grade and Algebra IB in 9th grade. The district anticipates one section of the new, slower paced two-year algebra track. Implementing these adjustments to math may result in higher standardized test scores.
The Plus One budget calls for a $344,000 increase for students with special needs. Addley has proposed this increase in anticipation of services and transportation for incoming identified students.