By Curt Peterson
The Windsor Central Modified Unified School District Board met at 6 p.m. Dec. 10 for a 2020 budget workshop prior to the regular board meeting. This meeting, in the Killington Elementary School gym, was the first of a rotating schedule of meetings in each of the six participating districts.
Superintendent Mary Beth Banios presented what she calls “Portrait of a Graduate,” describing the desired educational outcome for district elementary and secondary school students. The education would include self-direction skills, critical problem-solving, academic excellence, communications skills, and a strong sense of stewardship.
Banios’s proposed investments would increase the 2020 district budget by approximately 2.5 percent over the 2019 budget, which is over $20 million.
At the elementary level, Banios proposes adding a full-time curriculum coordinator ($70,000), creating innovations laboratories ($30,000), and evolving the existing pre-K program to a full-time, free facility (reduction in revenue, $160,000).
For secondary level goals, Banios would like an advanced math coach for grades 7-12 ($90,000), additional music, laboratory, literature and technology materials and equipment ($52,000), a post-secondary counselor ($60,000), funding for SAT and AP exams ($25,000), and an SAT preparation course ($10,000).
Banios also proposes engaging a consultant to implement safety and security upgrades recommended by a team of facility and system auditors ($50,000), and an increase in capital spending because of security equipment costs and a new roof on Killington Elementary School.
The total cost for her proposals is $1,382,000, including $685,000 for increased contractual obligations including a health insurance cost increase of 11 percent.
In the long run the effect of the successful pre-K program in Barnard is a significant reduction in special education costs as students advance through the grades, Barnard representative Pamela Fraser said. Banios applauded the Barnard program for its quality and sustainability, as well as its results.
Sherry Sousa, district director of instructional support, said early pre-K identification of learning issues and intervention has reduced the district’s need for expensive support as well.
Banios said she would like to offset the costs of investments. She would reduce the number of elementary level classrooms, eliminate arts positions on the staff, realize savings in building administration costs, reduce the cost of nursing as well as the cost of teaching woodworking skills , realize elimination of facility costs at the dormant Prosper Valley School and make reductions in special education costs.
Voters will have their say about the budget on Town Meeting Day in March.