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School district, Gilbert issue proposed budgets

WINSTED — Winchester Public Schools and The Gilbert School have issued their proposed budgets for school year 2012-2013, with the total coming in at more than $22 million.As issued by Superintendent of Schools Thomas Danehy, the proposed school district budget for school year 2012-2013 is $22,030,740.That figure is $537,591 more than the school district’s proposed budget for school year 2011-2012, which was $21,493,149.As part of the proposed budget, Danehy outlined several initiatives for the 2012-2013 school year, including hiring two new teachers for the K-6 public school system, creating a new alternate high school program and hiring a curriculum coordinator. Danehy also wants to hire a new technology education teacher, create a student support center, add a network administrator and purchase a new computer server.As part of the proposed budget, Danehy has developed a series of cost-saving measures, beginning with an early retirement incentive plan for an estimated seven teachers, which would save the district $168,000.Danehy proposes the elimination of a technology coordinator, which would save the district $79,000.He also proposes a reorganization of the district’s central office, which would save the district $60,000.Finally, Danehy proposes to increase health insurance co-shares for employees and to implement either Health Savings Accounts or to buy up optional Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans.Specific details of these proposals are not listed in the superintendent’s proposed budget.Additionally, Superintendent Danehy said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will ask the state legislature to fund $40 million in Educational Cost Sharing funds that will support programs for 30 of the lowest-performing school districts in the state.Danehy said Winchester is on the list of lowest-performing school districts.He estimates that the school district would receive $207,371 in additional funds from the state if the legislature approves Gov. Malloy’s proposal.If approved, Danehy said the school district would use the remaining funds for additional literacy support staff, a numeracy support program, a library media specialist for elementary grade students, an extension of the preschool program from special education students to include at risk regular education students and a summer school program.As for The Gilbert School’s proposed budget for the 2012-2013 school year, Interim Headmaster Daniel Hatch told The Winsted Journal the school has proposed a budget of $7,190,006.The proposal is an increase of $390,006 over the current school year’s budget.Hatch said the increase from last year’s budget is primarily due to increases in salaries, benefits and health insurance rates.The Gilbert School’s proposed budget is approximately 33.8 percent of the school district’s proposed budget.Board of Education Chairman Susan Hoffnagle said she hopes both the Board of Selectmen and residents will support the proposed budget.“I think we have had a zero budget increase several times before, so I think it’s probably time to have some kind of increase,” Hoffnagle said. “It’s worth talking about. People need to understand what is needed in the school district.”The school district scheduled a public hearing for the proposed budget for Thursday, Feb. 23, at The Gilbert School.Coverage of the hearing will be included in next week’s issue.

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