The month of February brought with it many celebrations to our schools. On February 6, our elementary students celebrated their 100th day of school. Since 1979, this has been a tradition in elementary schools across the country to signify that we are just beyond the midpoint of the school year. Our teachers often integrate math activities, poetry and special classroom events into their 100th day celebrations to enjoy this time-honored tradition. In addition to the 100th day celebrations, our students in all four schools participated in a variety of activities to celebrate and honor Black History Month. Curriculum connections can be found in almost all of our subject areas, with the purpose of highlighting the influence of Black Americans in the history of our country. From famous scientists, authors, and historical figures to music and even culinary arts, there are many curriculum connections honoring Black History Month in lessons throughout the month of February.
At the end of March, the Suffield Board of Education will be presenting its proposed FY24 budget to the Board of Finance. Our FY proposal began as a 3.9% increase in December, but due to adjustments to fixed costs as a result of special education tuition increases, transportation costs and health insurance plan changes, our budget proposal has increased to 6.75%. The administration anticipates and expects that there will be some reductions to this before a BOE proposal is submitted to the Town for Board of Finance deliberations.
What is important to note is that for the past three years, the Board of Education’s budget increases were offset with federal pandemic relief funds (i.e.. ESSER). We utilized our grant funds to maintain low budget increases to provide taxpayer relief during times of fiscal uncertainty. Unfortunately, our grant offsets resulted in lower than average budget increases for the past three years. During the pandemic, our budgets remained lower than the rate of inflation, but we knew that we would be faced with a higher than normal budget increase once the grant funds were depleted. This explains the larger request for FY24, and we look forward to presenting this information to the community during our budget workshops with the Board of Education, Board of Finance, and the Town Meeting.
I wish everyone a very safe and enjoyable month of March.