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Avon Superintendent Proposes $50.3 Million 2013-14 Gross Budget

The school board will review it further at a special meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 28.

Avon Public Schools Superintendent Gary Mala presented his $50.36 million 2013-14 budget proposal to the school board at its regular meeting Tuesday night.

The proposed gross figure represents the total before a projected $2,495,822 in non-tax revenue is applied. Once that amount is factored in, the proposal reflects about a 2.78 percent spending increase over the last fiscal year's $48,463,683 adopted gross budget, or about $1,294,201 more in net.

In a memorandum from Mala to the school board Tuesday, he also noted that $479,136.35 in net reductions to "requested budgets and existing line items" are included in the proposal.

Mala said he believes it's a "reasonable" and "responsible" budget. Major focuses for the district in the strategic plan and the budget development process include school culture, student achievement and communication.

About 81 percent of the proposed budget would be for salaries and benefits ($41,029,819), according to a slide Mala presented to the board. That incorporates agreements under three recently negotiated labor contracts for teachers and certified staff; custodial and maintenance workers; and school nurses.

School members will consider the following "decision packages" as a part of the proposed budget.

Item Which School(s) It Affects Funding Request Two video design communications courses Avon High School $35,000 Astronomy course Avon High School $0 Current events course Avon High School $0 Sports and society course Avon High School $0 English elective Avon High School $0 Applied education course (like tech ed.) Avon High School $0 Pilot internsip program Avon High School $0 Community service partnership initiative Avon High School $0 World language texts Avon High School $18,787 Co-curricular stipends Avon High School $11,169 Attendance clerk Avon High School $23,000 After school hours security (contracted service) Avon High School $14,400 Social studies and world language department coordinators for seventh to 12th grade Avon Middle School and Avon High School $37,200 Unified sports stipend Avon Middle School $5,600 World language, kindergarten through sixth grade Pine Grove School, Roaring Brook School, Thompson Brook School $0 Full-day kindergarten Pine Grove School and Roaring Brook School $0

The items listed as $0 would not require asking for more money.

Spanish for K-6

Mala identified state open choice reimbursement ($182,000), reducing two paraeducator positions ($40,000) and energy conservation savings ($32,000) as potential non-tax revenue sources and savings to fund 60 minutes a week of Spanish classes for kindergarten to sixth grade students.

It would cost a projected $254,000 to offer Spanish to elementary and upper elementary school students, including $222,000 for 3.7 teachers ($60,000 for each) and $32,000 for books, materials, curriculum and professional development, according to a slide Mala presented to the board.

Introducing world languages to kids at a younger age is more common now. Mala highlighted Glastonbury's FLEX language program as an example. Glastonbury schools have taught elementary school kids world languages for about 40 years, he said.

“The formative years are the elementary years," Mala said. "We’re doing that without asking for tax revenue to pay for it."

Full-day Kindergarten

Full-day kindergarten is a high priority, Mala said. The idea was raised in the strategic planning process, discussions and public comment at board meetings. Many parents wearing green tags that said FDK (full day kindergarten) attended Tuesday's meeting to show their support for that item in the budget.

Mala said that the proposed budget would allow the district to offer all parents full-day kindergarten for their kids. Parents could still opt for their kids to do half-day kindergarten.

If Avon were to transition to full-day kindergarten, Mala projected that it would cost about $330,000. That includes five teachers paid $60,000 each ($300,000), classroom desks and chairs ($20,000) and books, materials and curriculum writing ($10,000), according to a slide Mala presented to the board. It would not cost taxpayer money.

Instead, Mala told the board that it could be funded with non-tax revenue from state open choice reimbursement ($200,000), eliminating mid-day buses ($112,000) and energy conservation ($18,000).

The Avon Board of Education is scheduled to discuss the superintendent's proposal on Wednesday, Nov. 28. The meeting is open to the public.

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