Community Budget Forum 02292024

On Thursday, February 29, 2024, Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez and Deputy Superintendent Paul Foster hosted a hybrid (in-person and virtual) Community Budget Forum about the 2024-2025 School Year Budget. The event, which took place on Zoom and at Capital Community College, providing dinner, childcare and language interpretation, focused on an update on the budget process for the 2024-2025 School Year, and included a generous opportunity for conversation and questions. Hartford Public Schools is grateful to the community members who could make it to the meeting. Your engagement is so meaningful and important.

In case you missed it, you can watch the forum in the video embedded below and explore the English and Spanish presentations linked below. We have also included a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding our budget process.

HPS Community Budget Presentation February 29 204 - ENGLISH

HPS Community Budget Presentation February 29 204 - SPANISH


How are school budgets funded? Do schools have flexibility?

All schools are provided with funding according to our Equity-Based Starter Budget formula which outlines the minimum requirements for each school (see Slide 14 of the presentation). Schools are also provided with flexible dollars that allow them to fund the programs or staff that are most important to their unique school community.

  • The equity-based starter budget includes funding for school administration, student support (like counselors and social workers), and general education teachers.

  • The equity-based starter budget also includes per-pupil funding for things like instructional supplies, field trips, parent activities, and professional learning for staff.

  • The funding amount in each school’s budget includes the following:

    • All necessary funds to cover the salary and fringe benefits for positions outlined in the equity-based starter budget.

    • An amount equal to 75% of the FY24 per pupil flexible and middle school SEL supplemental allocation.

    • An additional $250 per pupil within magnet schools for additional costs associated with student recruitment and support of magnet themes.

How are school budget allocations changing?

  • A school’s total budget will be composed of two parts: school-based flexible allocations (above) and school-fixed allocations.

  • School fixed allocations are school-based expenses that are determined at the District level and then added to schools’ budgets. 

    • The following positions will be allocated to schools’ budgets based on statutory compliance: Special Education, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), Bilingual Resource Teachers, Speech and Language, and Adult Support and Nexus Paraeducators.

    • The following positions will be allocated based on departmental analysis driven by school needs: Nurses, Custodians, and Security Officers.

    • The following non-position items will be allocated to schools’ budgets based on spending trends and contractual obligations: stipends, instructional supplies, substitute teachers, overtime for School Safety Officers and Custodians, and high school athletic budgets.

    • Projected costs for utilities like electricity, gas, and water.

How is staffing determined for special education, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), bilingual resource teachers, custodians, and school safety officers and can we add additional staff if we have the funding?

  • Special education, TESOL, and bilingual staffing decisions will be made through their respective departments and based on the specific number and individualized needs of the students served in each building.

  • Custodial and School Safety Officer staffing levels are based on the needs of each school as determined by Building and Grounds and Safety and Security respectively.

  • Should a school have additional funding in its budget, requests to add positions in these areas will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

When can I see my school’s budget?

Principals have met with the Finance Department and are working with their School Governance Councils (SGC) on their budgets. All SGC meetings are public and you can ask your principal for information about meetings. 

  • Schools received their initial school-based flexible allocation by February 5th. The amount provided initially represents the minimum the district will provide.

  • Schools will be notified should the district fiscal situation change and additional funds be available for school allocations.

  • Schools must complete a final review of their 2024-25 budget with their SGC no later than March 15.

  • The Board of Education will vote to adopt the budget on April 16.

Will schools with lower enrollment continue to operate?

All 39 schools will continue to operate for the 2024-2025 school year. As we think ahead to future deficits, we may need to consider other options to create a balanced budget while continuing to provide the necessary resources and services for our students. 

Are arts and athletics included in the school budgets?

Hartford Public Schools is committed to the arts and athletics. These offerings are guaranteed to our students.

  • As part of the Equity-Based Starter Budget, each school is required to have at least a 0.5 Art teacher and a 0.5 Music teacher (these teachers can be shared across schools). 

  • Middle school sports will continue to be funded through the district athletic budget.

  • High schools will receive a separate allocation for their athletic programs but should anticipate this will be at least 10% less than budgeted for the current year.

Will mental health services continue to be prioritized?

One of our priorities for the 2024-2025 School Year is Student Connection to School, which includes student wellness, mental health, and social-emotional learning. The Equity-Based Starter Budget (EBSB) includes allocations for school social workers and counselors. Additionally, the EBSB includes more funding for middle school students for added social-emotional learning supports. 

How much does it cost the district for Hartford residents to go to non-HPS schools? Does the district get money for suburban students who come to HPS?

The District receives funding from suburban students who enroll at HPS through the State Magnet Operating Grant. However, the amount of money we pay in tuition costs is significantly higher due to the large number of students sent out of the district and the high number of students with special needs. This year, HPS will pay approximately $122 million in tuition costs for Hartford residents attending schools in other districts, which amounts to 25% of the total HPS budget. 

What can we do to advocate for more funding?

You can contact your state senator and representative and encourage them to support HB 5212 for Equitable Education Funding. The District has also been engaging with lobbyists and the legislature and participating in press conferences and public hearings. The Superintendent has also published an op-ed in the Hartford Courant. We will make sure to create a grassroots push to ensure we get the funding we need and will make sure to involve all of you, our teachers, our staff, our families, partners, and our students in that effort.