Valley Press: Superintendent Proposes Reinstating Cut Positions with New Open Choice Revenue
by Jennifer Senofonte
GRANBY – After the first Granby budget referendum failed, the Board of Education cut its budget by $250,000 and among the reductions were three new proposed positions for the next school year.
Superintendent Alan Addley may have found a way to bring back these three new positions, subject to board approval for the use of Open Choice funds that were just made available to the district.
At its June 5 meeting, the school board considered using new Open Choice funds amounting to $168,000 to reinstate the three positions: a new elementary Spanish teacher, a new gifted and talented program specialist, and a new math/science consulting teacher.
“The legislature extended one year of the Sheff [vs. O’Neill] agreement and included in the budget an additional $2,000 per student for Open Choice districts who exceed 4 percent. We have over 4 percent,” Addley told The Valley Press.
There are approximately 80 students from Hartford that attend Granby schools through the Open Choice program, and the Quality and Diversity fund receives $10,500 per kindergarten student and $6,000 for each student in grades 1-12.
“[Two thousand dollars more per Open Choice student] would give us $168,000 of additional revenues. It’s something that came after the budget process,” he said, noting that there are enough funds to bring back the three new positions next year at no cost to the taxpayers.
The gifted and talented position would be an instructional coach to meet the needs of the district’s highest performing students, something parents at the second budget hearing said is a critical need and has been discussed by the board previously.
The Board of Education took no action on Addley s recommendation to use the additional Open Choice money to fund the three new positions that were cut from the original 2013-14 budget proposal.
Open Choice revenues are kept in a separate account from the general fund education budget in an account called the Quality and Diversity fund and are used to fund supplemental programs that directly support Open Choice and Granby students, pay magnet school tuition fees, full-day kindergarten costs and fund Mandarin Chinese and other enrichment activities like Teen Battle Chef and Sign Language. “Q and D has been managed very conservatively to protect costs for magnet schools,” Addley explained, adding that there is a $500,000 balance carried in the account.
At the June 5 meeting, school board members questioned the sta-bleness of the funds. Addley previously told the Board of Education that he has received no indication of the state stopping the funds for the Open Choice program. “I think the model needs to be revisited because there are kids that could be well-served by our programs here,” Addley said of the use of the funds. “If we can fund these things, why do we continue to keep this balance?”
He said the board will continue the discussion at its next meeting June 19 at 7 p.m.