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School Chief Seeks 3.2% Hike In Budget

Key Elements Include Contract Obligations, Spending On Utilities

April 3, 2006
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer

Hartford Superintendent of Schools Robert Henry is proposing a 3.2 percent increase in the education budget for fiscal year 2006-07.

The proposed package would increase spending by $6.6 million, bringing the general budget to $215.9 million.

A few categories account for most of the increase.

Utilities spending is expected to rise by $1.13 million, or 13 percent; instructional supplies and textbooks by nearly $1 million, or 19 percent; and transportation by $1.5 million. About $2.6 million of the budget increase is for contracted salary increases.

The district also would pay nearly $400,000 to take over management of the buildings on the Learning Corridor campus from the Capitol Region Education Council.

New positions in the budget, which takes effect July 1, include four security guards to work at schools that have been enlarged to include middle school students, one new full-time and one part-time social worker. Four part-time assistant principals would gofull time.

The district also would add 39 new positions for teachers and other staff at new or growing magnet schools, but salaries for those jobs would be covered by state and federal grants, said Julio Molleda, the district's executive director for finance.

Molleda said officials were able to hold the total budget request to a modest figure because the district has more than doubled the amount of state, federal and private grants in its coffers in recent years.

In 2000, for example, the district had about $45 million in grants, said Sandra Cruz-Serrano, senior adviser to the superintendent. But this year, the district pulled in $97 million in grants.

Grant funding takes pressure off the general budget by paying for the entire preschool program, 75 percent of the kindergarten program, a bevy of reading and math coaches to help classroom teachers, violence prevention specialists, attendance case workers, many of the classroom aides who help special education students, all of the family resource aides, summer school, after-school tutoring and classroom programs, some books, some computers, training for teachers, food services and most of the cost of magnet schools, Cruz-Serrano said.

If he had included his wish list in the budget, Henry said, he would have increased spending on technology for classrooms - computers, digital white boards connected to laptops to replace blackboards, and other equipment. And he said he would have hired more teachers in order to reduce class size.

Henry has resigned as superintendent effective at the end of June. But he said that next year, if the new superintendent sticks to the plan to break up the biggest high schools into small schools sharing the same building, then the budget request will include many new positions. The idea is to have small classes and special themes. Each would have its own principal.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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