Amity Superintendent of Schools Charles Dumais presented the Board of Education with a spending plan for the 2018-2019 school year. The proposal carries a 1.87% increase, driven by contracted salaries and benefits, debt service, and textbooks.
“Our efforts to identify and implement cost savings and efficiencies continue to maximize downward pressure on expenses, both real and potential, in nearly all departments,” stated Dumais. “Instead of delaying capital improvement projects, we have developed a plan that avoids the impact of large expenditures in a single year and incorporated a proposal for bonding of major items, which is shown in the long-range planning. This plan represents our efforts to maintain superior programs at a minimum expense to taxpayers over the span of multiple years.”
Dumais called it a responsible request, offering the Board of Education what he called a preliminary glimpse at the package that he presented to the Amity Finance Committee in January. “With the development of this budget, we had probably the smallest increase in the initial budget from each of the department heads,” Dumais said. “When we try to attribute that to some type of action on our part or behavior on theirs, what we find is that people are really just asking for the things that they need and we really don’t have a culture of asking for forty of things that we only need two of.”
Under the proposed plan, salaries and benefits are higher by $450,045, debt service increases by $243,243 and textbook needs are higher by $64,792. Offsetting some of those higher costs, technology costs decreased by $8,646 and special education transportation and tuition will decrease by $46,159.
Dumais said he believes that Amity will be presenting a proposed budget to the towns that is “very close to that final answer as far as us doing our job in planning for the educational needs for the students of Amity.”
The number of FTE positions is a net increase of 1.1 with the addition of a 1.0 FTE para educator for math remediation previously funded by a grant. The dollars for that position will be offset by remedial services provided by substitutes. A .20 FTE position is proposed for a strings teacher. The high school currently has a .80 FTE strings teacher. The program has grown over the past two years, according to Dumais, and students were denied enrollment in the strings program based on the current level of staffing. Other staff changes include reducing a part-time math position by .12, reducing a reading position by .07, and changing a grant funded position by .10
“The list of things that we’re recommending to purchase doesn’t exceed $50,000. Our commitment to having a long-term healthy financial plan for the district won’t allow us to do that. We’re trying to be responsible for more than one year,” he said.
By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent