NORWALK, Conn. – With an eye toward a reasonable increase, the Board of Education on Wednesday night unanimously approved a proposed $164.9 million spending plan for Norwalk schools for next year.
The proposal carries a 3.4 percent increase in spending over the current year, which board Chairman Michael Lyons said was a fair amount. The plan will be delivered to the Board of Estimate and Taxation on Thursday and will be reviewed by the Common Council in February.
“Asking for a 3.4 percent increase is about as much as we could reasonably request,” Lyons said. “We can’t add back everything we lost last year, that’s just not possible."
The current year’s budget was a particularly hard one for the school system and many parents. A $4 million-plus shortfall resulted in the layoff of several instructors and administrators.
Among the positions the school system hopes to restore next year are eight elementary and middle school librarian aides, an art teacher at Brien McMahon High School, a curriculum specialist, a buildings coordinator, three special education staffers and six intervention aides.
Several speakers Wednesday at the board’s meeting expressed gratitude that some of the eliminated positions are slated to be restored. But not all of the positions would be restored, which has some parents and teachers frustrated.
“I’ve never seen a school library that closed for two weeks per month,” Cranbury Elementary School second grade teacher Howie Ziperstein said.
Some school library positions — but not all — are proposed to be restored next year.
“As a taxpayer, I think the 3.4 percent increase balances the concerns of the taxpayers while still providing for our students,” board member Steve Colarossi said. “I think the budget reflects the overall values of the community.”