Norwich strives to cut ‘fat’ from budget, but leave the ‘muscle’

NORWICH – Programming, extracurricular activities, personnel, overtime and staff development are all areas which will be considered as Norwich looks to cut more than $825,225 in expenses from next year’s budget in response to state aid cuts.

At a meeting of the district’s board of education last Wednesday, Superintendent Gerard O’Sullivan outlined his plan of attack for dealing with the reduction, which represents a 3.88 percent decrease from what they are slated to receive in the current academic year. The amount is equivalent to roughly 2.17 percent of the district’s total $37,873,070 budget.

While the district struggles to make ends meet with the diminished aid, they are also faced with rising costs in other areas – particularly contractual wage increases, health care costs and pension contributions. At a board meeting last month, the superintendent estimated that if spending was left unchecked, it would mean a 4.4 percent increase in the total budget. Coupled with the aid reduction, that would mean a roughly $1.6 million deficit for the district. Both he and the board agreed that passing this along to taxpayers was not an option, hence the need to focus even more closely on cutting expenses.

“We’re being faced with some very difficult budget decisions,” said O’Sullivan, as he walked the board through areas he’d identified for consideration.

The first area he addressed was programming, where he said savings could be realized and efficiencies gained by re-evaluating scheduling at the high school. This would include increasing minimum class sizes for core subject area classes to 15, and elective classes to 10.

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