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Waterford schools superintendent proposes 6.8% budget increase

February 01, 2024 7:46 pm • Last Updated: February 01, 2024 8:27 pm

Waterford ― Superintendent of Schools Thomas Giard III on Thursday night proposed a $3.7 million, or 6.8%, increase in the 2024-2025 school budget.

The board is set to meet again Feb. 8 to review the budget proposal and possibly make changes. The board is set to vote on the proposed budget, the largest in the past decade, on Feb. 22.

Budget documents show that salaries and benefits for teachers, administrators and staff account for $1.48 million increase in the $57.9 million dollar spending plan. The budget also includes $120,000 to hire six new paraprofessionals.

“It’s no mystery that salary and compensation increases is the largest part of our increase,” Giard said Thursday morning.

That’s partly because the proposed budget year will incorporate new union teacher contracts approved last month by the Representative Town Meeting. Those contracts will raise teacher salaries 2.57% in 2024-25.

Meanwhile, employee benefits are responsible for a 9.47%, or $876,605, increase in the proposed budget.

The schools are self-insured, Giard said, adding that the increase is because the schools need to budget more money for projected increases in the number and amount of health care claims.

Special education tuition and transportation are projected to increase approximately $930,000.

Giard said the increase is also partly due to the loss of federal COVID-19 relief funds, which had helped mitigate increases in past years’ budgets. A few programs and positions paid for with COVID money, such as school psychologists’ salaries and a therapeutic program at the high school, now have to be funded in the budget.

The loss of relief funds has led to the elimination of two middle school intervention tutors.

Giard added the proposal was fairly reflective of others in the region. East Lyme, whose school district he said was similar in size to Waterford, recently proposed an increase of 6.08%.

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