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Supervision Workshop Provides First Glimpse at Spending for 2022–’23 School Year

The Supervision District Committee of the Regional 4 School District held its first budget workshop on a proposed budget for the 2022–’23 school year on Dec. 15, 2021. The first of three scheduled workshops, the first draft of the budget presented by Region 4 administrators totaled $8,703,671. This represented an increase of $489,185, or 5.96 percent, over current-year spending.

The Supervision District budget accounts for the administrative costs to run the Regional 4 School District, shared services and the salaries and benefits of teachers and staff that are shared among the four school districts.

It is the first of the five budgets adopted in the Regional 4 School District and is allocated among each of the school districts’ budgets based on usage. The Supervision District budget is adopted by a vote of the members on the local and Region 4 boards of education.

Superintendent of Schools Brian White prefaced the presentation of the draft Supervision District budget in December with information related to ongoing contract negotiations.

“We have multiple contracts that are currently under negotiation that have yet to be ratified and approved,” said White. “And so, what we’ve tried to do for the purpose of budget workshop one is dial in this budget as best we could knowing that some of the more significant drivers are not solidified yet.”

The district used a specific formula including average statewide settlement figures and the total salaries that are expected to increase to arrive at an estimate of the financial impact of these negotiations, according to Finance Director Robert “Bob” Grissom.

The bulk of the proposed budget is composed of salaries and employee benefits, with contractual salaries increasing by $282,981 or 3.44 percent, according to the budget presentation.

New spending initiatives totaled $248,313, a proposed 3.02 percent increase. This includes $200,813 for a new special education program and $47,500 for consulting services to conduct a $20,000 information technology audit, $12,500 to conduct asset management and tagging work, and $15,000 to conduct security assessments.

Other changes in the proposed Supervision District budget resulted in modest increases, as well cost savings. A $40,381 or 0.49 percent reduction in an appropriation to employee benefits for the Health Insurance Reserve was among the items contributing to the cost savings.

The proposed budget also included detailed information on the budget allocations for Chester, Deep River, Essex and Region 4. After accounting for any revenues received, the draft total for Chester was $1,788,128, a $143,299 or 8.71 percent increase; for Deep River, it was $2,067,822, a $52,429 or 2.60 percent increase; and for Essex, it was $2,356,142, a $109,151 or 4.86 percent increase; for Region 4, it was $2,491,578, a $184,306 or 7.99 percent increase. These allocations are subject to change based on modifications to the budget proposal in future workshops.

At the December workshop, White responded to a board member’s question regarding the relationship between the declining enrollment in each of the schools and increases to the Supervision District budget.

“It’s not a proportional relationship,” said White. “I don’t think it’s as simple as, your [enrollment] numbers are going down, therefore, you should see complementary decreases in whether its staffing levels or special education services.

“I think sometimes, you know, and for understandable reasons, people would expect to see more of a direct correlation, and I think it’s more complicated than that,” continued White.

The Supervision District Committee will hold two additional workshops on the budget in January, with a public hearing slated for Monday, Jan. 31. A copy of the budget presentation is available under the District tab of www.reg4.k12.ct.us.

Elizabeth Reinhart covers news for Chester, Deep River, and Essex for Zip06. Email Elizabeth at e.reinhart@shorepublishing.com.

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