Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer
HARTFORD—Hartford School Superintendent Steven Adamowski presented his proposed budget to the board of education on Monday at Capital Preparatory Magnet School, leaving many flummoxed.
That was the board’s first look at Adamowski’s 267-page budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
Adamowski said his proposed $283.4 million operating budget represents a one percent decrease, or $2.1 million.
Most of the projected decrease is because of reduced federal grants, including the Title I Improving Basic Skills money by more than one million. At least seven other federal grants were reduced. But a 2010 infusion of $11 million from the “Teacher’s Jobs Legislation” is filling the gap left by those reductions.
There was no projection of new money to replace that funding, nor were there any new money to fill the gap spurred by increased operational cost of utilities, increased insurance rates and pending salary increases. And the overall proposed operating budget does not include capital expenditures.
So Adamowski’s budget is projecting cuts from special education to fund other parts of the budget, said board of education member, Louis Rodriquez-Davila.
Currently, the district spends 23 percent of its budget on 14 percent of its students, who are in special education, Adamowski said. And special education spending has increased dramatically in the past five years. So he is proposing a $4.6 million reduction of the over-all special education budget.
But special education is not the biggest chunk of the budget. The major driving factor in the projected increase in the proposed budget is salary increases, said Chief Financial Operator, Paula Altieri. The total increase in salaries and benefits in the proposed budget is $222.3 million, a $9 million increase from last year’s budget.
This leaves only $61 million for utilities and other operational expenses. And there is a slight reduction in instructional supplies
Adamowski budget is also projecting an increase in students. Board member Brad Noel, who has been on the board for at least 10 years and the only one to respond to Adamowski’s presentation, questioned the sudden increase after a series of projected decrease in the number of students.
Officials said the entire budget will be on the district’s website by Wednesday.