REGION 4— The four district school boards Thursday gave unanimous approval to a $6,390,898 supervision district budget that funds shared services in the Chester-Deep River-Essex school district. The budget total represents a 2.06 percent, or $129,160, increase over the current supervision district appropriation.
Most of the new spending is directed toward a new administrative position, assistant director of pupil services, at a cost of $127,710, including salary of $109,791, and $16,919 for medical and other benefits. Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy said the new position would upgrade services for about 300 identified special education students, and enable the district to avoid out-of-district placements, and related transportation costs, for many of these students. The number of identified special education students in district schools has increased from about 267 students in 2009-2010. Levy said several area school districts, including Region 17 (Haddam-Killingworth), Madison, and Old Saybrook have more than one supervisory position for special education programming.
In an effort to hold down the total spending increase in the budget, administrators identified about $138,000 in savings that includes some reductions in teaching hours for art, music, and elementary school foreign language positions.. Levy said the reductions in teacher hours are a direct result of declining enrollment at the three elementary schools, and would result in no reductions in instructional time for the elementary school art, music, and foreign language programs.
The supervision district budget was approved on unanimous votes of the Region 4, Chester, Deep River, and Essex school boards that gathered at John Winthrop Middle School Thursday for the joint meeting. The approval locks in a portion of the 2013-2014 spending plans that are now being prepared by the school boards. The supervision district appropriation is not subject to direct voter approval, but is divided between the Region 4 and three elementary school budgets based on the number of students from each town attending district schools. Essex, with the largest average daily membership (ADM) of students is expected to pay a 45 percent share of the budget.
The Region 4 Board of Education and local school boards for the three towns are expected to adopt proposed 2013-2014 budgets later this month. The proposed Region 4 budget goes to voters of the three towns at the annual referendum in early May. The elementary school appropriations, which are subject to review and adjustment by town finance boards, are presented for voter approval in May as part of the town budgets.