By Alan Addley, Ed. D.
On March 2, I will present the FY17 Administrative Budget to the Board of Education. The budget is a spending plan that is responsive to the slow-recovering economy; savings realized from the closing of the F.M. Kearns Primary School; board-approved goals; and, the budget guideline (-1 percent) established by the Board of Finance. The FY17 Administrative Budget is in the final stages of development. As of press time, the Administrative Budget is level funded (zero percent) as compared to the FY16 Budget. Over the final few weeks, the administration will strive to realize further efficiencies.
During the past seven years (FY09:FY16), in response to the economic challenges, dropping enrollment and realized efficiencies, the district operating budgets have had an average increase of 1.3 percent. During this same period of time, the district has successfully implemented over $800K in operational efficiencies and has returned an average of $201K per year to the town’s general fund. Granby’s per pupil spending during these seven years continues to be one of the lowest districts in our Demographic Reference Group and lower than other districts across Connecticut; yet, student achievement has remained extremely high. For example, the newly released next generation state accountability index for school performance shows that no other district in the state spent less on education and realized higher results. By any comparison, Granby continues to use taxpayers’ money wisely by receiving a high return on its educational investment.
Over the years, the district has creatively made program improvements with low operating budget increases. It is critical, particularly during a period of declining enrollment, that school programs remain attractive both for students that reside in Granby and for those that join us from other towns such as Hartland and Hartford. An excellent school system directly benefits taxpayers by maintaining property values and making Granby a desirable town for families and a desirable place for teachers to work. In developing the Administrative FY17 budget, the district has tried to honor the commitment to realize significant savings for the town and provide a high quality school system for our students.
Next year, the reduction of 12.69 staff members and the closing of the F.M. Kearns Primary School will result in $906K savings. A level funded budget provides the district with an opportunity to protect the investment the community has already made to education programs and to incrementally advance some of the board’s strategic initiatives with minimal impact to taxpayers. In particular, the FY17 budget supports identified needs for STEAM (Science Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math), Special Education, the Open Choice Program, early reading interventions, 1-to-1 computing, talented and gifted programming, and improved summer programming.
Thank you for your support of the school system thus far. I encourage everyone to stay involved in the budget process by visiting the district website, following it on social media and by attending any of the upcoming budget meetings: Presentation of the Administrative Budget 7 p.m., March 2, at Central Services; Board of Education Budget Workshops, 7 p.m., March 9 (and March 23 if necessary) at Central Services; Board of Education Budget presented to the Board of Finance, 7 p.m., March 28, in the Senior Center Community Room; Board of Finance Public Hearing. 7 p.m., April 11, in the GMHS Auditorium; and the Annual Town Budget Vote, April 25 from noon to 8 p.m. in the Town Hall Meeting Room.