• Board of Education Budget Quick Notes 

    April 5, 2017

    The Town Council voted on and approved the Board of Education's 2017-2018 Operating Budget. The approved BOE's 2017-2018 Operating Budget is as follows: 

    • 2017-2018 Operating Budget: $87,618,405, which is a 1.6% year-over-year increase.
     
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    March 29, 2017

    The Board of Education’s 2017-2018 proposed operating and capital budget was discussed at a Public Hearing at a Town Council meeting. During public comments, it was acknowledged that the value of the New Canaan Public School system draws families to want to move here which, in turn, keeps real estate values high. The Town Council also recognized that the BOE’s proposed 2017-2018 budget had the lowest requested increase in 20 years (1.6%).

    • Operating Budget: Although it officially votes on the Town budget on April 5, the Town Council unofficially approved the BOE’s Operating Budget: $87,618,405.
    • Capital Budget:
      • The BOE will defer the $125K capital request for the West School gym for one year.
      • The $200K for Saxe playground equipment remains funded and paid by bonding. 
      • The BOE will continue working with the Town to look for any capital duplication items. 
      • Propane tanks are not part of the budget discussion this year, and their inclusion in next year’s budget will depend on the Town’s natural gas conversations. 
         
    In closing, the Town Council complimented the BOE for providing clear, professional and transparent communication throughout the budget process. The Council also recognized the retirement of Bob Willoughby, noting that he exhibited “dedication without parallel” in his role as Facilities Manager.
     
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    March 9, 2017

    Board of Finance / Budget Vote / Town Hall  
     
    The Board of Finance approved the Board of Education and Town Budget at its March 9 meeting with the following changes:
    • Reduce the 2017-2018 Board of Education Operating Budget by $1 million from the BOE’s original proposed operating budget.
      • Proposed BOE Operating Budget: $88,618,405
      • BOF approved Operating Budget: $87,618,405

    • Reduce the 2017-2018 BOE Capital Budget by approximately $1.7 million from the BOE’s original proposed capital budget.
      • Proposed BOE Capital Budget: $4,043,130
      • BOF approved Capital Budget: $2,377,480
      • Capital budget reduction eliminates the following:
        • East: Corridor Ventilation ($25,000); Classroom Outdoor Air Dampers ($26,500)
        • South: Corridor Ventilation ($50,000); Classroom Outdoor Air Dampers ($26,500)
        • West: Corridor Ventilation ($50,000); Classroom Outdoor Air Dampers ($26,500)
        • Saxe: Corridor Ventilation ($120,000); Classroom Outdoor Air Dampers ($49,000)
        • NCHS: Auditorium Sound System ($120,000)
        • Propane Tanks ($819,150)
        • Energy Conservation ($300,000)
      • Capital budget reduction:
        • District: Engineering Services ($53,000) (BOE had requested $103,000)
      • Saxe Playground Equipment ($200,000) was not removed from the BOE budget and remains funded.
     
     The Town Budget now moves to the Town Council for consideration, public hearing, and review prior to a final vote.
     
    Town Council Meeting Schedule:
     
    Wednesday, 3/15/17 - 7:00PM @ Town Hall, Meeting Room Session: BOE
    Wednesday, 3/29/17 - 7:00PM @ Town Hall, Meeting Room Session: Budget Public Hearing and Overall Review
    Wednesday, 4/05/17 - 7:00PM @ Town Hall, Meeting Room Session: Vote on Budget and Regular Meeting
     
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    March 7, 2017

    Board of Finance / Public Hearing / Town Hall

    The Board of Finance held a Public Hearing on the Town’s proposed 2017-2018 budget in which the general public was invited to comment on the proceedings to date. The majority of the public comments centered on the Board of Education’s budget proposal. Speakers ranged from a high school student, concerned parents, presidents of the PTC/PFA, community members, and current and former members of the Board of Education.

    Following public comments, the BOF continued its discussion and maintained its position to:

    1. Reduce the Board of Education’s operating budget request by $1 million. Suggestions included:
    • Removing $500,000 in health benefits from the BOE’s operating budget and moving that amount into the Town’s General Fund.
    • Increasing the anticipated savings in the salary account in the hope that there are additional retirement savings.
    • Reducing staff (new or existing) or other programming as needed.

    2. Reduce the Capital items request by $1,865,650. This reduction reduces/eliminates the following:
    • Engineering services: ($53,000) reduce
    • Corridor Ventilation @ E/S/W/Saxe: ($245,000) cut
    • Classroom Outdoor Air Dampers @ E/S/W/Saxe: ($128,500) cut
    • Playground Equipment @ Saxe: ($200,000) cut
    • Auditorium Sound System @ NCHS: ($120,000) cut
    • Propane Tanks @ E/S/W/Saxe/NCHS: ($819,150) cut
    • Energy Conservation Project @ E/S/W/Saxe/NCHS: ($300,000) cut

    In a Q/A hand-out, members of the BOE’s administration, faculty and Board responded to BOF inquiries that included questions about special education expenditures and state and federal testing mandates that govern the ELL (English Language Learners) program.

    The Board of Finance will vote on the Town budget on Thursday, March 9, 2017, after which the budget will proceed to the Town Council for review.
     
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    February 28, 2017
     
    Board of Finance / Meeting
    • Capital
      • After discussion, the Board of Finance suggested reductions of approximately $1 million in the capital items request for 2017-2018.
        • Deferral of $819,000 for propane gas tanks at the schools in order to give the Town time to explore the possibility of gaining natural gas fuel service for New Canaan.
        • Removal of $200,000 request for Saxe Middle School playground.
    • Operating
      • After discussion, the Board of Finance settled on approximately $1 million in reductions to the BOE’s proposed operating budget for 2017-2018. The suggested areas for reduction are:
        • $500,000 in health benefits.
        • $500,000 in general operations.
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    February 16, 2017
     
    Board of Finance / BOE Budget Follow-up and Review / Town Hall
     
    At a follow-up meeting with the Board of Finance regarding the BOE’s 2017-2018 proposed operating and capital budget, Superintendent Bryan Luizzi addressed a detailed list of questions presented to the BOE by the BOF. The full list of BOF questions and the BOE written responses submitted to BOF committee members is available online here. The list of 26 questions involved budget items that included staffing, insurance and capital expenses. Dr. Luizzi was joined by members of NCPS faculty and administration in the discussion.
     
    Discussion topics at the meeting included:
    • The addition of 1.2 FTE at NCHS due to increased enrollment. The BOF asked if adjusting teacher staffing at Saxe could be used as a cost-reduction alternative. It was explained that Saxe uses an industry standard team-taught model that relies on consistency. Moving teachers would dismantle the team and have a negative effect on the quality of the student learning experience.
    • Factoring in retirements to accurately reflect budget projections. It was explained that getting advance retirement numbers is difficult. Retirement is often a tough decision to make, one that is very personal, and one the BOE is quite often not made aware of in advance, although it regularly presents CT Education Association retirement workshops for district staff.
    • Insurance projections. Health insurance experiences are generally cyclical, and the BOE is currently in a positive phase of that cycle. This reduces projections and allows the BOE an opportunity to factor in a reserve of $500,000 as a budget stabilization measure.
    • Capital Expenses. There was a lengthy discussion involving propane as a cost-reduction item as compared to heating oil. The BOE explained that owning its own propane tanks and shopping commodities would be substantially cost effective. The tanks themselves would have a full payback in five years. Propane buses are also being instituted into the district beginning next year.
    • Budget Document. The BOE made several references to the BOE’s 2017-2018 proposed operating and capital budget document in answering BOF inquiries. The document is available online here.
     
    Upcoming Budget Meetings:

      Board of Finance, Budget Public Hearing and Review
      7 p.m., Tuesday, March 7, 2017
      Town Hall Meeting Room

      Board of Finance, Vote on Budget and Regular Meeting
      7 p.m., Thursday, March 9, 2017
      Town Hall Meeting Room


    February 7, 2017
      Board of Finance/Town Council / Budget Meeting / Town Hall
        The Board of Education’s 2017-2018 proposed operating and capital budget was presented before the Board of Finance and the Town Council at a joint Town Hall meeting.
         
        In the nearly three-hour presentation, Superintendent Bryan Luizzi was joined by members of NCPS faulty, administration, Board and an insurance consultant in delivering a comprehensive explanation of the proposed budget, welcoming questions and discussion from members of the Town’s two funding bodies.
         
        Besides Dr. Luizzi, those offering comments and insights into the budget included Dionna Carlson, Board Chair; Hazel Hobbs, Board Member; Dr. Jo-Ann Keating, Director of Finance and Operations; Darlene Pianka, Assistant Superintendent of Pupil and Family Services; Lizette D'Amico, World Language/EL Administrator; and Joe Spurgeon, an insurance consultant with Milliman.
         
        How Gov. Malloy’s proposed teachers’ pension cutbacks from the state budget would impact the Town’s budget process was also discussed.
         
        It was suggested that BOF and TC members submit further questions on the proposed BOE budget to a BOF/TC liaison to be forwarded to the BOE for review prior to the next BOE budget discussion with Town officials. This next discussion takes place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16, at the BOF Meeting at the Town Hall Meeting Room, in which the proposed 2017-2018 BOE budget will be further reviewed by the BOF.
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        January 27, 2017
         
        The Board of Education unanimously approved the superintendent's proposed budget for 2017-2018 budget. The budget will now proceed to the town funding bodies for review/approval.
         
        BOE Proposed Budget 2017-2018:

          Operating $88,618,405 (2.67% annual increase)

          Capital: $4,043,131

          Operating Budget Variance Drivers:
          1) Healthcare Insurance
          2) Contractual Salary Increases
          3) Other Salary Adjustments that include the hiring of: Mathematics Instructional Specialist at Saxe, District English Language Learner Specialist, NCHS Enrollment Manager, Custodian for newly constructed square footage at Saxe
           
          Key Capital Projects:
          1) Repair and upkeep on the district's 5 school buildings
          2) Purchase of new vans for district transportation services
          3) Technology equipment leases
           
          Special Projects:
          1) Propane tanks at all schools and the bus depot
          2) Energy Conservation
          3) Sewer/septic work at West