Unfunded state mandates are fueling the 3.57 percent increase in her proposed 2013-14 school budget request, Supt. of Schools Fran Rabinowitz said Tuesday night when she unveiled the proposal at the school board offices.
The $83.1 million proposal is $2.8 million more than the current $80.3 million budget. Of the $2.8 million, $2.1 million is for non-discretionary items, or things called for by contract or by necessity, and $713,389 is for discretionary spending that Rabinowitz said she feels is necessary.
"A lot of effort went into this, and what I think you'll see is our best thinking as to what our schools need, as well as the Hamden community," she said.
The bulk of the discretionary increases, $304,668 is for three administrative positions at the three largest elementary schools -- West Woods, Bear Path and Spring Glen -- but their purpose is for a non-funded state mandated new teacher evaluation system that is going to tax the district both financially and labor wise, Rabinowitz said.
The administrators -- School Improvement Coordinators -- will be the lowest paid administrative positions in the district, she said, and will assist with teacher evaluations, she said. Without them it will be impossible to meet the state requirements for the evaluations, she said, which will require about six hours of time per teacher.
Much of the rest of the discretionary budget increases is in utility accounts -- natural gas ($27,747), electricity ($125,058) and sewer use fees ($9,850) -- that have historically been underfunded.
"We are trying to true up thees lines that are underfunded each year," Rabinowitz said.
Other increases a $151,573 increase in public and non-public school tuition paid for Hamden children who attend schools other than Hamden Public Schools, and increases for furniture, fixtures and equipment; instructional equipment, postage and other miscellaneous items.
There also is a $30,000 increase for safety items, Rabinowitz said.
"This will allow us to have money for what we need when we need it, like locks for doors," she said. "We also anticipate a sizable request for safety in the capital budget" which will come as a result of the work being done by a recently formed district safety committee that is researching the issue.
Non-discretionary budget increases include salary increases negotiated by contract for administrators, teachers, clerical, custodians and other employees. Central Office salaries are actually decreasing by $22,088 because the superintendent's salary is lower than in past years.
It also includes increases for transportation, fuel, insurance and unemployment compensation.
The Board of Education's Finance Committee will begin reviewing the proposed budget Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the board meeting room at Central Office.