To the Editor:
The town vote on the 2021-22 Wilton Public Schools budget proposal is fast approaching. The Board of Education members urge you to participate in the process.
Please remember the Annual Town Meeting on Saturday, May 8 at 3 p.m. in the Clune Center and the budget vote on Saturday, May 15 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Clune Center.
The proposed school budget provides resources for post-pandemic learning recovery with support for students’ social-emotional needs, focuses on our top program priorities, and continues our strategic plan.
We must prepare for the post-pandemic school year. This year our schools provided an exceptional education under extraordinary conditions. Our outstanding faculty delivered excellent instruction in remote, hybrid, and in-person formats while ensuring students’ health and safety and providing individual support.
Although we celebrate our overall amazing success given the circumstances, we are mindful of the possible learning loss, learning gaps, and social-emotional stress that students have experienced. As we look forward to more normal conditions next year, we need resources for accurate assessments and solid support for students. Because each student experienced this year differently, it is important we match the support to the needs of the individual. The budget provides K-5 classes at the lower end of our usual range; adds a math interventionist at Cider Mill (funded by a federal grant); adds a part-time math coach at WHS; and increases social worker time at WHS for mental health support (also funded by a federal grant).
In addition to COVID recovery, the budget supports our top program priorities by implementing next steps in our math improvement plan; refining our literacy program; addressing the achievement gap between general education and special education students; and increasing attention to mental health needs. Resources, some of which also support COVID recovery, include the math interventionist at Cider Mill (grant-funded); an updated Level One Algebra course at WHS; part-time math WHS coach; curriculum development, staff training, and new assessments in phonics and phonemic awareness; continuation of Teachers College literacy training K-8; RULER program training (promotes social-emotional health); a mental health assessment at WHS; and increased social worker time at WHS (grant-funded).
Finally, the budget supports our strategic plan. We have defined the desired attributes of a Wilton graduate to be “a contemporary multiliterate scholar; a courageous ethical leader; a creative entrepreneurial designer; a self-navigating expert learner; an active, socially sensitive citizen; and a balanced, healthy human being.” To develop these aspirational attributes, we must match them to real curricular and instructional practices in classrooms. This requires curriculum development, assessment design, staff training, and implementation of new and revised course proposals.
The resulting school budget proposal is $84,804,215, up $2,459,652 (2.99%) over last year. The request comes after a flat budget last year and represents a seven-year average budget increase–including this request–of 1.13%. It includes salaries and benefits (close to 80% of the total), transportation, technology, special education in-district services and out-of-district tuition, staff training, curriculum development, classroom resources and supplies, equipment, building maintenance, and utilities.
More complete information about the school and town budget proposals and process is on the town website. Please be part of this critical annual decision.
Wilton Board of Education