New London Director of Business Services Joe Marquardt presented budget projections for the 2012-13 school year during Monday’s annual budget hearing.
“The goal of our budget is to create the best resources and opportunities for our students,” Marquardt said. “These factors combined with economic conditions made the development of the budget difficult.”
In developing last year’s budget, the district looked at expenditures to find ways to do more with less after seeing a $2 million reduction in the budget.
With another $1.5 million reduction impacting the 2012-13 budget, the district is shifting its focus of doing more with less to doing things differently with one clear vision; success for all students.
“It became apparent that we can no longer do more with less,” Superintendent Bill Fitzpatrick said. “The changing economics of education in combination with the changing demands on students requires that scarce resources be focused on a clear vision for our schools. We must do things differently if we are to meet the promise of our mission.”
With its vision of success for all students, board members have adopted a new three-year strategic plan to guide budget decisions. The strategic areas of the plan are Maximizing Student Achievement, Build Staff Capacity and Pursue Sustainable Practices.
“The numbers in the 2012-2013 budget presented support this plan and will help us achieve the objectives of each strategy,” Fitzpatrick said.
According to Marquardt, the projected budget will see $89,200 reduction in State aid and 1.79 percent reduction in Tax Levy over last year’s budget.
Other revenue expenditures include the reduction of Fund 39 (Referendum Debt) Levy by $188,000 and a $175,000 Charter Grant for planning.
Some expenditure assumptions include the reduction of 5.5 certified staff members due to enrollment declines, including three certified staff retirements. Two administrative services and one support staff reductions were also made.
Modifications to the transportation program that included a reduction of bus routes, a net loss of 58 students to open enrollment and a 2.4 percent increase in wages were also included in the expenditure assumptions.
The projected budget is subjected to change to incorporate student enrollment as of Friday, Sept. 21. Official state equalization aid and certification of the levy will not be finalized until October.
“I feel good about this year’s budget,” Marquardt said. “Our mission statement success for all students is reflected in the budget we created. It’s important that we work together to make New London a good district for our kids.”
Following the annual budget hearing, school board members approved the 2012-13 budget for all funds in the amount of $31,830,341 based on the projected numbers presented.
Director of Teaching and Learning Kathy Gwidt shared with board members the various grants awarded to the district.
The district has been the recipient of various grant awards over the past few months. Funding from the grants will be used during the upcoming school year to aid in several programs.
A Project Lead the Way (PLTW) grant in the amount of $10,000 was awarded by a donation from Bemis Company, Inc. Funds from the grant will support the PLTW engineering program.
The district also received a $10,000 grant for Fuel for Our Future, sponsored by the Monsanto Company.
“We are grateful to local farmers who nominated our district to write this grant and provide us the opportunity to research how this funding could enrich courses in agriculture and science,” Gwidt said.
Fuel for Our Future will help students in grade 6, as well as those students in grades 9-12 enrolled in agriculture, chemistry, biology and environmental science classes to understand the impact of renewable energies.
“One area of implementation will provide students the opportunity to make biofuel while developing their understanding of alternative energies,” Gwidt said.
A Charter School Planning Grant in the amount of $175,000 was also awarded for the implementation of a learning academy called The Next Generation Academy.
The academy will combine the elements of online and face-to-face instruction to offer a different learning environment for students.
“The academy is meant to be different than the traditional learning setting,” Gwidt said.
Students in grades 6-12 will have the opportunity to enroll in the academy during the 2013-14 school year.
The original version of this story indicated that state aid had been cut by $1.5 million. In fact, the school budget was cut by that amount, not state aid. The story has been corrected.