Thursday evening, all parents and community members are invited to attend a public presentation of the Superintendent’s 2016-2017 budget proposal. Wilton Public Schools superintendent Dr. Kevin Smith will present his budget to residents and will welcome feedback and input from members of the public. The presentation will take place tonight, Thursday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Cider Mill cafeteria.

It will also stream live on Channel 78 and be available to view via the district website, by clicking here.

The current budget proposal for ’16-’17 requests a spending increase of 1.27-percent over this current year’s spending. The total amount that is currently being asked for is $80,972,640.

This budget, Smith asserts, is “fiscally prudent” and balances the need to be fiscally responsible with “strengthening the district’s capacity to utilize strategies that improve teaching and learning.”  The budget, he says, allows the district to maintain “current high levels of programming,” add new courses, and enhance curriculum and instructional support to teachers.

According to a statement from Smith in the bi-weekly school news sent to parents, “Budget priorities include providing mathematics interventionists at Miller-Driscoll, Cider Mill, and WHS; creating a new engineering course at WHS; and continuing the many curriculum, instruction, and climate improvement initiatives currently underway.”

Of the $80.97 million being requested, the budget breaks down as follows:

Salaries 60.4%
Employee Benefits 16.9%
Contracted services, Outplacements, Supplies & Equipment 14.2%
Transportation 4.9%
Buildings, Operations & Facilities 2.6%
Substitutes 1.0%

budget 16-17 pie chart

The budget reflects a reduction in staff, by 6.65 FTE (full-time equivalents). It also reflects a projected decline in enrollment by 99 students (2.3-percent). Even with the reductions, the largest portion of the budget—just over 77-percent—is allocated to employee salaries and benefits.

In materials that are available on the school district’s website, Smith explains that professional staff compensation is the largest part of a budget for most public school districts, and suggests that doing so will benefit student performance.

“Wilton Public Schools invests significantly in its teachers. Research correlating effective teaching and student achievement is clear.”

Some of the ways Smith says that the budget will help strengthen teaching in the district is through investment in professional learning, support of staff collaboration and providing laptops to instructional staff.

He says that the budget has been constructed as such because the priorities “include expanding course offerings and strengthening systems to support teachers’ work in the classrooms.” As well, the district is putting concerted effort toward “strengthen[ing] our capacity to support our most struggling learners through the proposed addition of mathematics interventionists…”

Smith also points out that it is a continued priority to “expand enrichment and arts opportunities” and that is “reflected through proposed expenditure increases at Cider Mill and Middlebrook.”

Initiatives in technology and the “Learning Commons” are also areas of focus:  the continued development of these initiatives “is prioritized through significant expenditures in infrastructure upgrades, device acquisitions and increases in personnel support.”

The budget proposal is available on the district website.