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Darien BOE continues budget discussions

Published 3:58 pm, Thursday, January 17, 2013
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The Darien Board of Education budget presentations continued on Tuesday and Wednesday as members listened to proposals for the health, technology plan, administration, personnel, curriculum, finance, maintenance and fixed expenses and capital projects.

The Health Department is requesting $726,426, a 2.19 percent increase over the 2012-13 budget.

Director of Health Services Ellen Ryan said one noteworthy item is $40,281 for a full-time secretary in the office during the school year.

"There's a lot of state mandates that have to be filled regarding documentation that has to be produced for different medical conditions; health requirements like physicals and things like that," Ryan said. "Unfortunately, there's a lot of chasing we need to get people to comply."

The secretary would be full time for 10 months rather than half-time for 12 months. Ryan said there is less of a need for the secretary in the summer as there is for one there full-time during the school year.

K-12 Technology and Data Coordinator Christina Hefele said technology plan needs 59.61 percent more, or $407,000.

Of that, $40,000 would be for student interactive devices so the department can test the use of iPads for a Darien High School math course in place of a textbook, a Texas TI Calculator and additional document cameras for the entire district. The department tested them last year and found they were successful.

The elementary schools were presented as a whole by three of the four principals. Across the district, the three major requests were new furniture at a few of the schools, a secretary position and a stipend for a technology coordinator.

Hindley School is asking for a 5 percent increase, the highest of the elementary schools, to $3,091,000. Holmes School is requesting $2,652,979, a 2.92 percent increase. Ox Ridge is requesting a 1.38 percent increase, the lowest of the schools, to $2,880,165. Royle is asking for a 1.69 percent increase to $2,540,171. Tokeneke is seeking $2,801,015, a 1.86 percent increase.

Administration costs are proposed to increase 10.5 percent to $625,863, the biggest jump being for consultation services, which would rise from $10,000 to $50,000. Schools Superintendent Stephen Falcone said the money is not only added in hopes of figuring out a solution to the increased enrollment and decreased space, but also for some unexpected needs.

"If we bring in people to do an enrollment report, we're talking $15,000 to $20,000," Falcone said. "We don't know exactly where we're going to go."

The personnel department is requesting $772,423, an increase of 14.8 percent, $300,000 of which is slated for long-term substitutes for maternity and sick leaves.

The board is also concerned with the budget control line item; the district is requesting more money than it might need now in anticipation of possible increased enrollment. A $294,864 proposal is in place for additional class sections if necessary.

The administration hopes to increase the curriculum budget by 13 percent to $1,884,136. Of that, $1,326,248 is due to contractual obligations and $120,000 is for curriculum research and development because of the new teacher/administrator evaluation system required by the state.

Finance is looking for a 7 percent increase, or $1,426,944.

Director of Finance Richard Huot said he strongly supports the temporary hourly employee on the budget for $15,000, which will cover the cost of interns.

Huot said Jeff Adams, director of information technology, "has a staff of eight people, and these people need to take vacations."

Maintenance is requesting a 2.57 percent increase to $2,733,915. Some of the key items include care of trees, operation of the vehicles and custodial supplies.

Fixed expenses will raise 5.95 percent to $18,725,185, mostly due to electricity because the transmission cost has gone up two-tenths of a cent and heating fuel because costs are up as well.

mdavis@bcnnew.com; 203-972-4007. twitter.com/megdariennews