Receiver Burr proposes cut to Gilbert tuition
WINSTED — The Board of Education reviewed Winchester School District Receiver Freeman Burr’s second proposed budget during a three-hour meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 22.
At his presentation, Burr said that the first budget proposal that he gave to the board on Feb. 14 was a “wish list” budget and will not be the recommended budget to the board.
The budget that he presented at the Feb. 22 meeting was a “bare bones” option and included several differences between the previously presented proposed budget on Feb. 14.
In the budget he presented on Feb. 22, Burr recommended the removal of two certified positions and two non-certified positions, along with the removal of teachers in prekindergarten, second and fifth grades, along with a paraprofessional.
He also proposed the removal of a previously proposed expanded summer program at Batcheller.
According to projections Burr provided in his presentation, the cuts would help the district save $375,582 in salaries in personnel expenses if implemented.
In fiscal 2016-2017, the school district paid an estimated $10,175,245 in personnel expenses.
As the meeting went on, Burr and the board discussed the proposed tuition for The Gilbert School.
In early February, Gilbert School Superintendent Anthony Serio presented a proposed budget for fiscal 2017-2018 at the Gilbert Corporation’s finance meeting.
Serio’s proposed budget for fiscal 2017-2018 is $8,243,827, an increase of $193,221 or 2.40 percent from the current school year.
However, in the proposed budget Winsted has a tuition decrease of $96,963 or 1.41 percent, for a total of $6,766,598.
The Winsted tuition for fiscal 2016-2017 for Winsted is $6,863,561, while the fiscal 2015-2016 tuition was $6,985,191.
However, Burr told the board that the school district is paying Gilbert an additional estimated $1 million in in-kind special education costs.
“We have slightly under 100 special education kids at Gilbert,” Burr said. “On average, we’re paying $10,000 per student.”
Factoring in Gilbert’s recommended tuition and special education costs, Burr said that the total payment from the school district to Gilbert will be an estimated $7,838,999.
Burr went on to say that a “fair tuition” would be “$1 million less than what is being asked for.”
He recommended cutting the $1,072,401 in special education and student service in-kind costs from the Winchester school district to Gilbert.
Burr said that he previously told Serio of his proposed tuition cut and that he planned on meeting with him.
“Hopefully I can negotiate a reasonable tuition with him,” Burr said. “Hopefully we will be able to come up with a common number that is higher than $5.8 million but lower than $6.7 million.”
Throughout the meeting, Burr repeated several times that the school district and taxpayers should not subsidize the cost of any international student attending Gilbert or cover the cost of any facility improvements at Gilbert.
The next budget workshop for the board is scheduled for Wednesday, March 1, which is after the deadline for this week’s Winsted Journal.
Coverage of the workshop will be in next week’s issue.