Stamford Public Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr gave members of the press an overview Tuesday afternoon of his proposed operating budget for the 2011-2012 school year. The budget, which will be presented to the Board of Education at its fiscal meeting Wednesday night, lays out many ways the district plans to tighten up while not straying from its strategic plan.
Among the positions and services on the chopping block are 12 special education teaching positions, one administrator position, assistant director position for the ARTS program, one school bus, three non-public buses, and various high-school activities supervisor and custodial positions. Other miscellaneous cuts include copy paper and maintenance repairs.
“We’re just cutting a little bit out of everything and making adjustments wherever possible,” Starr said. “If you tighten up on these little ends you’ll find that it adds up a lot.”
Per usual with districts around the country, Stamford Public Schools is facing rising costs and reduced funding, which means roughly 3.8 percent of the budget must be trimmed to maintain the current level of staffing programs and services.
Starr noted that the reduction in special education staff was a difficult decision to make, but pointed to data that supported Stamford schools has some wiggle room in the special education department. The average ratio of special education students to support staff in a large urban district is 1:23 — and 1:17 in Fairfield County specifically. Stamford remains above par with an average of 1:15.
“There’s a little bit of room there,” Starr said.
Before introducing the major changes to the budget, Starr emphasized that fiscal constraints would not impact Stamford Public Schools’ mission of improving curriculum and assessment, instructional grouping, professional learning communities and school culture.
“We are continuing to work on our strategic district improvement plan,” he said. “The budget will not compromise our ability to do that.”
The budget will be presented to the Board of Education Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in Stamford Government Center. The meeting was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but was postponed due to inclement weather conditions.