School officials and the Board of Education categorized the for Tolland schools as "critical" for education quality at the first budget workshop of the season on Wednesday night.
The assembled school officials and principals answered questions about the proposed budget at the workshop and stressed that the budget proposal is preserving the bare bones of the Tolland school system.
"We worked very hard to get this down here to where it's at. Without it, it's catastrophic," said Superintendent William Guzman, who said that the district's principals originally presented requests that resulted in a 9 and a half percent budget increase.
"There isn't anything at this point that we can afford to lose," said Principal Walter Willett.
He pointed out that the two world language positions transitioning from grant funds to the local budget are essential not only for keeping foreign language in the school, but are preserving the school's current seven-period schedule. Without those faculty members, Willett said that the middle school would revert to a six-period schedule, a move that he categorized as "catastrophic."
A number of other positions are included in the budget, some of which are being transferred from grant funding to the budget to maintain those staff members, Guzman said. A few are only on the budget because Guzman said the school district anticipates receiving certain grants, but budgets for the positions in case the grants don't come through.
The personnel summary is also available online.
The administrators spoke about several issues that have developed due to long-term cuts in various area. Principal James Dineen mentioned that previous cuts to the custodial budget have impaired the school's cleanliness, since classrooms can no longer be cleaned on a daily basis.
Willett also highlighted the inadequacy of some school technology, explaining that a number of computers failed during the Connecticut Mastery Test examination last year, causing a logistical and administrative headache.
Currently, there is $60,000 designated for 300 new computers in the proposed budget.
While the school officials defended the necessity of the budget, Guzman added that the district is still actively looking for ways to save money. He said Cigna is currently investigating a possible regional insurance program in which approximately 12 school districts would participate. Hypothetically, the regional program could lower costs Guzman said, although he said more research is necessary.
The board discussed putting the budget vote on the Jan. 25 agenda as an action item, although that has not been posted online.
The budget is available on the Tolland schools web site.