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Interim Superintendent Proposes $4.6 Million School Budget Increase

Under the plan, Manchester Public Schools budget would rise from $100,646,835 to $105,246,451 in the 2013-14 school year, an increase of 4.57%.

Interim Superintendent of Manchester Public Schools Richard Kisiel presented a budget proposal to the Board of Education Wednesday that would see the school budget increase by $4.599 million in the 2013-14 school year, an increase of 4.57 percent over the current year's budget. 

Under Kisiel's proposal, funding for public education in town would increase from the current budget of $100,646,835 to $105,246,451 in the 2013-14 school year.

In assembling his proposed budget, Kisiel said he was sensitive to the current economic conditions, but said he felt the budget he proposed was "necessary" if the district was to meet its stated goals of providing a quality and competitive education to all Manchester public school students. 

The largest driver of the proposed budget, and the budgetary increase, is salary and benefits for district staff, which makes up 81 percent, or $84.75 million, of the total budget. Teachers will receive a 1.5 percent wage increase under the proposal, and Kisiel said he also reinstated increases in pay for advancement in steps for teaching personnel in order to attract and retain the most competitive teachers.  

'It's important for us to attract, hire and retain the most competent teachers possible," Kisiel said. 

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Although Kisiel's proposal does eliminate 10 paraprofessional positives, it does not reduce any teaching staff and will largely maintain current class sizes, although Kisiel noted that most classrooms in the school district are currently at or very near capacity as is. 

Other items of note under Kisiel's proposal include: 

  • A 2.25 percent increase in administrator salaries. 
  • The funding of a new assistant principal position at Manchester High School (that position has actually been in place since the beginning of the current school year, but is not funded under the current school budget). 
  • A roughly $1 million increase in special education funding. 
  • The replacement of five vehicles within the district's maintenance fleet, which Kisiel said is larger than normal because replacement vehicles have been needed for years and continually delayed. 

Kisiel's requested increase is higher than in recent memory. Last year, his first as interim superintendent, Kisiel sought a 2.78 percent budget increase, roughly the equivalent of $2.76 million; for the 2011-12 school year, then Superintendent Kathleen Ouellette sought a 1.7 percent increase or roughly $1.7 million. Both budgets also sought a greater number of staff reductions. 

Several members of the school board remarked that they supported Kisiel's proposal, but noted that the large increase Kisiel was requesting was due to years of trying to simply scrape by with as small an increase as possible. 

"Relatively to what we've had in the past, it's a significant increase, a significant departure from what we've had before," Chairman Chris Pattacini noted. "For so many years, we've tried to manage within a one to two percent budget (increase), and it's now finally caught up to us." 

The Board of Education will hold a series of budget workshops in January, before deciding whether to endorse or amend Kisiel's budget proposal. If the school board votes to endorse Kisiel’s plan, it would then go before the Board of Directors, which has the final say on the town’s overall budget and could reduce it. 

JK124 January 10, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Was the absence of any teacher position eliminations a result of the closing of Nathan Hale School, or were those teachers and staff just relocated and not eliminated? By Mr. Pattacini saying things have "finally caught up with us," is he saying the public will just have to simply accept this budget as is? He could have also said we had to make bricks without straw and had the same effect. We're facing a state that's seemingly headed down the path of cutting municipal aid, which will already force pressure on larger than average property tax increases. It'd be important to know if the Superintendent's budget is one that presents a need for this 4.57% increase to simply "maintain current services," or if there's any room to move. We certainly have to make every effort to be as lean as possible given the recent decrease in take home pay due to the payroll tax increase and the looming tax bills in January that will undoubtedly make the burden even heavier on the taxpayer.
Greg January 10, 2013 at 04:25 PM
With an interim superintendent you get a TRUE education budget that is not developed with "will this proposal help keep me employed" in mind. Lets face it we need Dr Kisiel more than he needs us. going on two years and still no viable permanent replacement. Remember he is not here for the long haul so he does not have to worry about politics only presenting what he believes is in the best interest of our students. Welcome to the reality of politics in education--eventually doing the popular not necessarily the RIGHT things do catch up with you and in the end you pay more than if you funded them when originally needed. Same thing we are seeing at the state and federal level, it all catches up with you eventually and and make no mistake we all WILL pay.
Chris Pattacini January 10, 2013 at 04:31 PM
Good questions. Changes in staffing resulting from Nathan Hale’s closing were reflected in this year's budget, so there is no resulting change in staffing from this year to next year's proposed budget. The 4.57% increase maintains services from last year. The superintendent mentioned one "added" item – funding for the high school to identify and address improvements for education outcomes. My sense from the discussion last evening is that the administration and board recognize the fiscal issues we face (cuts to state aid, etc.), but also balance that against making necessary investments to improve education (and efficiency, so we can lower costs), as well as maintain facilities. My comment about “it catching up to us” was in that context. A good example: if we invest in tools for electronic communication with parents, we will lower costs for printing/paper in the long run (the costs of which keep going up). If we don't invest, costs continue to climb. Lastly, my quote was more an observation on why we have 4.57% to maintain services (to the points above), than the community having to live with it. It would be great to get community input on the proposed budget, its components, and where people think we can and should add and cut. We have two more workshops to discuss the budget before it gets submitted to the Board of Directors (Jan 16 and 23, with a snow date on Jan 30, all at 6:00 PM in room 293 of the Freshman Wing at MHS).
Joe Grieco January 10, 2013 at 04:59 PM
Which is probably why no one misses Kathy Ouelette!
Jon Crickmore January 12, 2013 at 12:36 PM
What are the 10 Para professional positions being eliminated ?? Hope they are not in the special education dept.
Jon Crickmore January 15, 2013 at 10:55 PM
Yeah kinda figured you wouldn't answer.
David Moran (Editor) January 15, 2013 at 11:07 PM
Jon, I believe 5 are in special education, and 5 are not.
James Bond January 16, 2013 at 06:12 PM
Kisiel is keeping the seat warm for Geary.
Jon Crickmore January 17, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Thank you David. I thought Mr Pattacini would have answered the question.

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