Superintendent Steven Adamowski proposed a $395.8 million education budget on Monday night that includes nearly 60 staff cuts but no teacher layoffs.
The plan for 2011-12 calls for a $4.5 million, or 1.1 percent, decline in spending compared to the current adopted budget and yet is the "least difficult" proposal in the past three years, Adamowski told the board of education during a special meeting at the Capital Preparatory Magnet School on Main Street.
That's because $11 million from a federal education jobs grant that the school system received last summer was saved for the coming fiscal year. The stimulus money expires in June 2012.
A total of 58.6 staff positions would be cut under Adamowski's budget — including 27 paraprofessionals, 20 from central office and support services, and four maintenance workers and a custodian. Thirty-nine of the cuts would come from 45 city schools, which overall would benefit from a 2 percent net gain in spending as the central office shrinks, school officials said.
The existing 2010-11 budget cut 92 staff jobs, including 49.5 teacher positions.
"Certainly that's outstanding news, obviously," said Andrea Johnson, president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, upon hearing Monday that her union members would be spared this time. "Now can it happen? That's the next question."
Adamowski's proposal includes the assumption that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will carry out his pledge to flat-fund education cost-sharing grants for municipalities, which in Hartford's case would be $188 million.
In addition, Adamowski recommends no increase in the city's direct contribution to the education budget, currently at $93.7 million. The school system also expects to receive $112.4 million in special funds, which includes federal grants and private donations.
Major cuts in the proposal include reducing the central office budget by 6 percent and deferring $1.3 million in planned maintenance and repairs. Adamowski also projects a $4.6 million cut in special education out-of-district tuition payments, which he believes could be made by expanding local programs for students with special needs.
Transportation would receive $1.6 million less, in part by putting one of the city's contracts to a competitive bid, according to the proposal.
The agreement with LogistiCare — a bus broker that subcontracts Hartford's special education and magnet student transportation — expires in July and has been the subject of recent leafletting at city council meetings by the local bus drivers' and monitors' union, CSEA-SEIU Local 2001, which has sought the open bid.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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