Dr. Steven Adamowski
2017-18 Recommended Operating Budget Request
Dear Norwalk Families and Community Members,
I am pleased to submit a recommended budget for the 2017-18 school year for Norwalk Public Schools. As expected, it presents both the challenges and promise of continued improvement of Norwalk’s schools. The FY 2017-18 budget request is comprised of three distinct components or budget categories:
A base budget increase of $2.6 million or 1.5% to cover the cost of labor contract settlements and normal cost escalation;
A program improvement appropriation of $3.9 million or 2.3% necessary to address several high-priority educational needs designated in our Strategic Operating Plan;
A special appropriation for enrollment growth of $2.5 million or 1.4% to cover the cost of educating a growing student population, including more English language learners and special needs students.
The cost of categories 1 and 2 is $6.6 million or a 3.7% budget increase. The appropriation for enrollment growth adds another $2.5 million or 1.4%.
Unfortunately, an unprecedented increase in employee health insurance costs totaling $8.6 million, or 4.9%, overshadows the entire budget process of the School District and City. To place this increase in perspective, the additional cost is the equivalent of funding 86 current teaching positions.
This large increase in health insurance is due to a spike in claim costs of approximately 16%, compounded by one-time reductions made to the Board’s appropriation for health insurance in FY 2016-17. The reductions were possible because the District had previously accumulated a surplus in its Insurance Fund from favorable claims experience in prior years. These one-time reductions reduced the amount of money that the Board was required to deposit into the Insurance Fund in FY 2016-17, and in an agreement with the City they were used to fund the Special Education Development Fund for 2017-18.
While the recommendation to draw down the available balance in the Insurance Fund in this way helped reduce the Board of Education budget for FY 2016-17, at this point the available surplus in the Insurance Fund is below the recommended level and sufficient funds are not available to offset the increase in costs. This situation forces an evaluation of all alternative health insurance options and financing arrangements that are available to the District and City.
I have asked the leadership of our City to join us in the examination of three options: