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Brady Says No Easy Savings in Amity Budget

School Supt. John Brady says this budget was more difficult because he ran out of places to save money.

No easy savings are possible this time, School Supt. Dr. John Brady told the Amity Region 5 Board of Education Monday as the board considers approving a 2013-14 budget.

Brady noted in recent years he was always able to find ways to save money in items such as employee health insurance and energy conservation that made the board’s budget process easier.

But this year there are no easy savings, which has made the budget process more difficult, he said.

The proposed regional district budget for 2013-14 would increase by about $1,151,400 to roughly $44,764,549. The superintendent said his new budget figures would be published on the district’s web site this week.

Members of the board complimented Brady, who plans to retire in June, for paring his budget recommendation down from a 4.7 percent increase to a 2.64 percent hike.

The board might vote on the new budget as soon as Monday, at a meeting schedule for 6:30 p.m. at Orange Middle School, provided it is satisfied with Brady’s assurance that a proposed cut of 3.2 teaching positions won’t hurt the students.

Another factor might be the state budget, which must close a projected deficit of nearly $2 billion over the next two years, according to an article this weekend in the Hartford Courant.

Members of the Region 5 school board said they don’t expect Gov. Dannel Malloy to recommend cuts in the state’s Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grants to municipalities when he gives his budget address Wednesday, but non-education state grants to towns might be cut.

Brady’s budget presentation at the Amity Region 5 meeting in Amity High School said the three towns in the regional district are expecting a total of $3,871,138 in ECS funding for 2013-14 — Bethany $2,042,361; Orange $1,107,407; Woodbridge $721,370.

A 2.64 percent increase would be higher than the district’s budget increases in recent years. For 2012-13 the district only received a 0.47 percent increase, and for 2011-12 the increase was 1.52 percent.

But spending that Brady said was deferred in previous years must finally be included in the budget.

Some of those items include $185,100 to replace old computers, and $87,202 for new textbooks.

Medical and dental insurance costs will increase by about $403,000.

Some costs are due to unfunded mandates, such as the new teacher and administrator evaluation standards and new core curriculum standards that will go into effect next year.

Brady said the district must spend $55,543 for a girl’s ice hockey team for Amity High School, mandated because more than 20 girls want to play. He said the girls had been part of a regional team, but state law requires the school to have its own team if more than 16 girls try out.

The district has no choice, Brady said. The only other option is to discontinue the boy’s ice hockey team.

Brady spent part of his presentation detailing many ways that parents and taxpayers have to be satisfied their education dollars are well-spent. Amity Region 5 was recently listed as the 7th best district in the state, and Amity High School as the state’s 4th best high school, he said.

He said in 2012, 292 Amity High students took 553 Advanced Placement exams and achieved passing scores on 91.8 percent of them. Ninety-five percent of the graduates of the Class of 2012 went on to higher education, 86 percent to a four-year college.

CMT and CAPT scores were stable or rising at both the middle school and high school levels.

And Amity students had equally impressive achievements in the arts and in sports as they did academically, he said.

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