Public hearing Wednesday on $188.7M proposed Manchester school budget

Feb. 20—The Manchester School District will hold a public hearing this week on a proposed $188.7 million Fiscal Year 2024 tax cap budget.

A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22, in the aldermanic chambers at City Hall for comments on the proposed budget.

The hearing precedes a full school board meeting, which begins at 7:05 p.m., or whenever public comment wraps up. All are welcome to participate.

The budget contains $1.5 million in salary increases, $1.7 million in additional employee benefits, and nearly $4.5 million in reductions for transportation services.

The budget was drafted using an FY'24 tax cap of 4.96% — an increase in tax revenue of $5,578,043 over the FY'23 school district appropriation of $190,328,128.

Throw in a decrease in other revenues of $7,146,951, and the result is a FY'24 tax cap compliant budget figure of $188,759,220.

The budget also contains $30.4 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. The budget recommends using $575,000 in Community Improvement Program (CIP) funds for the purchase of five buses.

The budget supports 12,319 Manchester school district students, along with services at charter and parochial schools in the city.

This week's budget hearing also includes a $192,756,869 "Additional Needs Budget," listing items the district would fund over and above the tax cap budget if given nearly $4 million in additional funds.

The "Additional Needs Budget" includes funds for improvements in:

—Technology — cyber security ($89,000), equipment ($776,921), software ($105,492) for a total of $971,413;

—Teaching & Learning — staffing ($420,000) to increase high school class offerings consistent with the course catalog and decrease class size at the middle school level;

—Legal — staffing ($105,000);

—Equity — staffing ($1,743,236), community partnerships ($230,000), programmatic build up ($200,000), for a total of $2,173,236;

—Athletics — increase the number of sports offered ($57,000), and $156,000 in additional equipment;

—District — increase in staffing ($115,000).

The school district's FY'24 school food and nutrition budget comes in at $5,819,971, while Capital Improvement Plan projects total $5,175,000.

Following the public hearing, the Board of School Committee will vote on a budget number, or numbers, to send to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for approval.

In recent years, board members have voted to send both a tax cap budget and additional needs budget to their counterparts on the city side, letting them decide which number to fund.