The annual school budget process in Ansonia has kicked of a new spirit of cooperation among Aldermen and the schools, administrators from Ansonia Public Schools said Wednesday while taping “Navel Gazing,” the Valley Indy’s weekly talk show.
Click the play button to listen to the interview in its entirety.
In Ansonia, the school board proposes a budget, but the Board of Aldermen have the final say over how much money to allocate for education.
As proof of a new working relationship in the city, Ansonia Schools Superintendent Carol Merlone, Assistant Superintendent Michael Wilson, and interim Business Administer Frank Connolly pointed to a signed agreement with the Aldermen this week that, in simplest terms, puts school officials and city officials on the same page.
More on the agreement later, or you can click play on the YouTube player to listen to a detailed discussion.
The school’s proposed budget totals roughly $32.6 million — about a 2.68 percent increase in spending over the existing budget (but keep reading).
The deal between the city and the school district has two major components.
1. The city agreed to move “excess cost grant” money from the city revenue side of the budget to the school district budget. The “excess cost grant” is money from the state to help pay for special education, a big chunk of the school district’s budget. It totaled $1.3 million this year, though officials don’t know how much it will be next year because the state’s budget process just got underway.
2. The school district agreed to take on $600,000 worth of “in kind” services currently covered by the city. These items include things like liability insurance.
FYI, when you add the $600,000 transfer sliding into the school budget from the city budget, the school district’s budget-to-budget increase inflates to about 4 percent.
While the budget process between the school district and the city elected officials is starting off on a positive note, the school district will still probably be losing teaching positions.
That’s because the state’s “alliance district” program is coming to an end. The money is targeted toward the state’s under-achieving school districts, including Ansonia and Derby.
The district’s all-day kindergarten program, which was funded by the alliance money, will not be cut, the superintendent said, because the money to pay for it has been built into the school budget over the last few years.
However, some other positions will likely be axed, though school officials don’t have a specific total yet.
Please click play to listen to the discussion, which lasts just under an hour.
Merlone and Wilson credited Connolly and Ansonia comptroller Richard Bshara for their efforts to bring the agreement about.
‘Navel Gazing’ is the a weekly podcast hosted by reporters Eugene Driscoll and Ethan Fry of ValleyIndy.org.
The show also plays every Monday on WNHH 103.5 LP FM within the City of New Haven.