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School Budget Focuses on Achievement Gap

More elementary school teachers and new programs focused on student outcomes are on the list of the Greenwich Public Schools proposed $135.6 million budget for the 2011-12 school year. Superintendent Sidney Freund unveiled the budget early this month, with revisions made last week. The plan would be a 3.4 percent increase over the 2010-11 budget.

"We're not just focused on the achievement gap," Freund said at the board's Nov. 9 meeting, according to a published report. "We're not just focused on special education students. We are focused on raising achievement for all students."

About 85 percent of the overall proposed budget is devoted to personnel services.

For the budget increase, 75 percent is because of higher salary and contractual obligations. Most of the remaining increases are because of transportation and technology costs.

The projected enrollment for 2011-12 is 8,919 students, an increase of 56 students over this school year. Certified staff levels are projected to be about 821 positions. To meet classroom-size guidelines, 14.1 positions will be added at the elementary level, according to the proposed budget.

The budget increase would also be because of the loss of the nearly $2.5 million ARRA Federal Stimulus Grant, which paid to replace eliminated staff, add positions and pay for other school-based supports, Freund said.

Two public hearings on the proposed budget will be held Nov. 30 and Dec. 9. The board is scheduled to vote on the budget at its Dec. 16 meeting before submitting the plan to the town by Dec. 30. The Board of Estimation and Taxation must approve the proposal before the Representative Town Meeting can adopt the budget in May.

What do you think about the school budget? Is the proposed spending increase too high or not high enough? Comment below to get the conversation going.

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