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Glastonbury Board of Education trims budget – Hartford Courant



GLASTONBURY — The Glastonbury Board of Education cut the proposed 2022-23 budget by Superintendent Alan Bookman, at its meeting on Jan. 10.
Bookman’s proposal was $117.9 million – a 3.8% increase – one of the highest in years – over the current year’s budget.
The board poured through all of the budget line items, primarily making small cuts, but totaling approximately $600,000.
Board Chairman Doug Foyle said that the board had canceled the third night of workshops the prior week, because the budget had been discussed and no further comments or questions remained.
Among the cuts was one proposed by board member Julie Thompson – lowering the arts department budget by $5,000.
“I just thought that if we took some smaller cuts to some smaller line items, that there could have been some savings the last couple of years, such as supplies, that reduce that budget without making larger cuts that might hurt education,” Thompson said.
Thompson also proposed a cut of $100,000 to the elementary education line, citing savings seen due to the pandemic – namely supplies and materials – that can carry over to the next budget.
Similar cuts were made to many departments, forgoing some supplies, in favor of technological learning. Foyle said that the cuts to supplies will not negatively affect learning.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to make sure that our teachers and staff have the materials and resources they need to get the job done,” Foyle said.
After it was mentioned by a resident via electronic comments, the topic of e-sports entered the discussion of technology. Bookman called e-sports an “interesting, new phenomenon,” that the district would be looking into expanding. Glastonbury High School already has an e-sports club.
“It’s kind of like a sports team,” Bookman said. “They are using technology to compete against each other in a variety of ways. We will be looking at having something available for those students, maybe in the STEAM lab. It’s different than anything we’ve done. It’s not gaming – it’s more of a team competition. Don’t be surprised if you see a course in that area, in the years to come.”
Board members commented on the whole budget, and some said they still wanted to look into some of the details.
“I sill have a lot of questions and the details are very important,” said board member Jenn Jennings.
“I think we had a really great process this year,” said board member Evan Seretan. “I do agree that there are some budget items that we’d like some more details on, before we vote for our final budget. But, we’ve done a good job at taking a first cut.”
Matt Saunig said he supports the budget, but called attention to the student support center, especially after the mental health challenges brought by the pandemic.
“There are serious mental health needs that our kids have,” Saunig said. “I’m really proud to support this effort.”
Foyle thanked the administration for its work, and said that the budget accomplishes the goals of the district.
“I think the overall budget is going to adequately provide for the education of our Glastonbury students next year,” he said. “I think it’s also going to go to maintain the excellent education system that the Board of Education has built over a number of decades.”
The resulting budget of $117,237,387 will now go to the Board of Finance and the Town Council.
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