The Greenwich Public Schools' budget for the 2013-14 school year of $142,099,644 was unanimously approved by the Greenwich Board of Education last night with a vote of 8-0 at their December business meeting held at Greenwich High School.
The two options presented to the Board were:
1. Operating Budget of $143,151,602 (2.7% increase), which was originally proposed at the November 8 Superintendent's Budget Presentation.
2. Operating Budget of $142,099,644 (1.97% increase), which represents the Superintendent's reduced budget unveiled at the December 13 budget meeting.
According to the Superintendent Dr. William McKersie, "the primary drivers of the increases in the 2013-2014 budget, other than contractual obligations, are the Digital Learning Environment initiative, the Math Curriculum Review, and addressing Racial Imbalance."
The amended and approved budget includes a number of reductions identified by the Administration such as $712k at central office and $228k in the math review as adjustments.
McKersie told Greenwich Patch that "the proposed 2013-2014 budget and subsequent recommended reductions were developed and submitted from the Superintendent with important and critical input from the administration, new and veteran."
A month ago Irene Parisi joined McKersie's Cabinet as a new addition to the Administration as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Learning. At the December 13 budget meeting, Parisi explained the efficiencies found in the math review.
The budget books shows Havemeyer costs going up $3.2 million at 8.5% and according to McKersie the allocations for the digital initiative and math review appear in Central Office/Havemeyer programs in the budget.
Of the reorganization of Central Office, McKersie said that "with the introduction of Common Core State Standards, and a new standardized assessment, as well as the need to address the fiscal realities that face us locally and nationally, it is necessary to restructure that way we provide central office support for our schools."
There has been much discussion in the past of combining departments such as Human Resources or Facilities with the of the Town of Greenwich to create fiscal and resource efficiencies.
In response, the Superintendent told Patch that "the Town and BOE HR Departments have been working very cooperatively this past year and looking for ways to consolidate services where legally permissible."
McKersie went on to explain that "the first major initiative will be the introduction of a new computerized payroll and human resources system that is anticipated to result in cost savings. A recently adopted BET HR study has recommended other areas to explore that may prove fruitful in the future."
The budget also includes $250k of funds for unspecified programs to deal with the Racial Imbalance issue. The digital program, budgeted for almost $1.1, includes 4400 devices for students in year 1 at a cost of $883k. Regarding this proposal, McKersie told Patch that "any refinements will be addressed in the development of the implementation plan."
Board Chair Leslie Moriarty said the approved budget "protects the classroom as best as possible." However, during the PTA Council public comments, President Lisa Beth Savitz addressed the Board to "express the alarm of PTAs at the diminished budget with its unknown potential impacts on educational quality."
Since McKersie unveiled his spending plan on Nov. 8, the board has held 3 budget hearings and 3 board meetings which yielded little public commentary.
Following last evening's approval by the Board of Education, the budget now goes to the First Selectman and then the Board of Estimate of Taxation.