By: Van Riley, Superintendent
Two Education Funding Issues-Help Set Our Future
2015-2016 Education Budget
The Board of Finance approved a funding level of 3% increase for the 2015-2016 operational budget. While this is not the requested 5.35%, it represents a realistic compromise to meet many of the needs of the district while keeping the tax rate increase at a minimum. The Board of Finance unanimously approved this proposed increase. A public hearing is scheduled for April 14 at Stonington High School.
The district is considering how best to make the necessary reductions. Maintaining programs for students and keeping the funding for instructional materials for teachers were top priorities by principals and administrators when making the recommendations. To that end, one proposal is to implement a student activity fee at the high school level. This fee would offset any necessary cuts to athletics, drama, and other extracurricular activities.
The list of proposed reductions can be found on the district webpage (stoningtonschools.org). Please join the Board of Education and Board of Finance by supporting education when the budget referendum is held in May.
Elementary School Modernization Plan
The Building Committee is commended for the many months of hard work developing a solid plan for the future of our elementary schools. I join our Board of Education in fully supporting the proposed plan to renovate and expand the Deans Mill Elementary School and West Vine Street School sites. The project basically builds two new schools equipped with technology and designed for future flexibility. Both facilities will be designed based on "green" building concepts and stress the importance of utility savings.
I also commend the Building Committee and DRA architects for working with teachers, principals, and district administration throughout the planning process to make sure the end product provides all of the necessary spaces, specialized facilities, and program adjacencies that are so important for current and future instruction. While the specific design process will take place after the funding is secured, our staff members are excited to get started and are already busy drawing up plans and ideas to share. The K-12 Building Committee is concluding a series of community meetings where residents can see details of the projects and ask questions of the committee and of the architects. I encourage everyone to attend the final public hearing on the plan when it is scheduled. The referendum is now tentatively set for April 21.
Please join me in thanking our K-12 Building Committee and show your support at the referendum.