The Stamford Board of Education met Tuesday night and passed a new budget for the 2013-2014 year with some slight modifications since it had been presented to the public last week.
The board passed unanimously a $245,846,959 operating budget, an almost half-million dollar increase from the budget presented to the public at Westover Elementary School on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013.
That budget comes to a 3.86-percent increase, .2-percent greater than the 3.66 of the most recent previous iteration.
There were several line items that underwent minor modification in the budget that passed Tuesday and will now go on to face various city boards and further public input.
Among those changes, funds being reserved to prepare for an influx of students in Stamford's elementary schools:
- A note that no programs or locations would be moved or changedat this time
- Adding seven paraeducators to assist the elementary and kindergarten teachers added to deal with student body growth
- Adding two additional administrative interns to the original three presented for a total of five.
- $500,000 set aside and dedicated to security protocols and upgrades once an official review of the procedures is done
- One science teacher added back to both Westhill High School and Stamford High School, reducing the number of cut positions from four to two.
Superintendent Winnie Hamilton briefly addressed developments with the Department of Justice's decision to investigate Stamford Public Schools for their handling of English Language Learning students in the district and the resources dedicated to those students.
"On advice from counsel, I'm not able to talk about the terms of those negotiations until we reach a resolution and agreement," Hamilton said. "Hopefully we will have a resolution, certainly, by the end of the school year."
Six interns will be added to ELL classrooms to assist the district's position during the DOJ proceedings, and additional funding for ELL classroom's roughly 2,100 students will also be placed, an increase of the per-student allotment in those classrooms. Those funds totaled about $42,700 as a line item.
"Our ELL progress continues to be flat," Hamilton said, later adding the decisions and moves made regarding ELL classrooms were, "Positive action in the right direction."
The board unanimously agreed on the budget, many making comments about the the hard work put into the budget and thanking Hamilton and the BOE Fiscal Committee for making it a budget that has something for everyone. Upon approval, the audience gathered for the meeting broke out in applause.