Ridgefield Board of Education adopts $107 million proposed budget

Ridgefield – A majority of the Board of Education voted to adopt the proposed budget of Superintendent Susie K. Silva for next school year.

The $ 107.2 million spending plan is up 4.79 percent from the previous fiscal year. It initially stood at $ 107.4 million, up 4.98 percent.

Board members Elizabeth Flogel and Selina Bell voted against the proposal, citing concerns about administrative costs and the need to support the arts.

Ahead of Monday’s vote, Da Silva outlined some adjustments made by administrators to reduce the total, including a $ 10,000 reduction in the line of sports equipment and a reduction in both insurance liability and workers’ compensation costs.

Almost 80 percent of the adopted budget is accounted for by salaries and wages. It also reflects a 19 percent increase in the cost of special education and tuition costs over the previous year given the growing number of students with special needs in the district.

According to Da Silva, a number of proposed state layoffs will save $ 100,000 while providing administrative restructuring that better meets the needs of the district.

The Superintendent also noted some cost-cutting strategies, including reducing vehicles by $ 120,000 and limiting insurance costs by 3 percent.

Bell proposed changes to the budget to include two art teachers for about $ 154,000 instead of another article. She argued that more money needed to be allocated to classes to directly affect students, and expressed concern about the lack of art education in the district.

“We keep talking about (social and emotional health), but we’re not doing anything for our children,” Bell said. “There’s so much money in the budget for administrative purposes, but they don’t flow into the classroom.”

Assistant Superintendent Corey Gillett said the county is evaluating what resources are needed to provide a comprehensive art program for K-12 students.

Flogel also spoke about the increase in administrative costs, despite the decrease in the number of enrollments. Based on current projections, Ridgefield has lost 338 students from the 2018-19 academic year, she said.

“If you look at the ratio of administrative and teaching roles, from the 2018-2019 school year it has grown by at least 2 percent,” added Flogel. “Adding people and the number of principals to schools with a decreasing number of students … is very worrying.”

Da Silva argued that of all the school systems in his county reference group – which includes Darien, New Canaan, East Reading Region 9, Weston, Westport and Wilton – Ridgefield has the lowest number of administrators relative to student numbers.

“Here we do a lot with the baby and … as a result … we have to work very closely and closely,” she said. “But we are by no means the chief administrator.”

Other board members expressed their support for the head’s budget, which the Finance Council was expected to discuss Tuesday night.

“I thank the administration for delving deeply into the arts program,” Sean McEvoy said. “I’m glad we’ve finally refocused on the curriculum as a whole and put it together … it’s great to see.”

“Our mission is to do our best for all our children,” said Tina Malhotra, “and when our administration says it’s a budget that … moves our schools forward, I think we should trust it.” .

alyssa.seidman@hearstmediact.com

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