DARIEN, Conn. – Darien Public Schools Interim Superintendent Lynne Pierson has proposed adding more than $4 million to education spending next year.
The proposed budget calls for more than $90.9 million in funding for public schools in the 2014-15 school year. If approved, that would be an increase of $4.46 million, or 5.32 percent, over the allocation for the current school year.
“Our aim in developing this education budget is to advance student learning through high quality programs and instruction, while at the same time achieving an economy of resources,” Pierson wrote in her budget introduction.
The plan includes adding the equivalent of 10.6 full-time staff members next school year. More than half of those new positions are earmarked for the special education department. The new hires are part of a larger effort to reorganize the department after the legal troubles it faced over the last year.
Another piece of the new expenses will go toward technology. The proposal includes an added $413,000 outlay for new equipment such as SMART boards, a WiFi system upgrade at the elementary schools, video on demand services and other programs. The town is also piloting a program that would incorporate tablet computers into the classrooms.
Darien will also have to spend more next year to continue its transition to the Common Core State Standards and the new teacher evaluations required by the state Department of Education. Money for new textbooks and an extra curriculum staffer are included in the budget for the transition.
The budget also includes a $1.4 million request for repairs and other capital improvements. The largest single item in the request is a new oval turf field at Darien High School, which is expected to cost $525,000.
Other larger projects include installing new burners on boilers at Middlesex Middle School, repaving the blacktop at Holmes School, adding an emergency generator at Ox Ridge School and adding new heating controls to Royle School.
The full proposed budget is available for review at the Darien Public Schools website. The Board of Education will hold meetings with the Board of Finance, Representative Town Meeting and the public before voting on the proposal in February.