Hartford Public Schools Aligning Budget to Advance Equity: Superintendent Narvaez Recommends $422.3 Million Proposal for 2016-17

HARTFORD (Tuesday, April 19, 2016) – Superintendent of Schools Beth Schiavino-Narvaez recommended a $422.3 million operating budget for the 2016-17 academic year before the Board of Education, with 82% of available funds invested directly in schools.
“I am pleased that this budget continues to allocate the vast majority of all funds to schools and students. I am proud that we were able to maintain small class sizes, access to the arts and physical education, and student support through social workers,” said Dr. Narvaez on Tuesday. “Beginning with this budget, Hartford Public Schools will start a multi-year process of aligning its resources for equity. This is an opportunity to get it right, to put us in a position of having both strong magnet schools and strong neighborhood schools.”
This budget prioritizes Hartford Public Schools' focus on student-centered learning, our core business of teaching and learning, equitable resources, fostering positive school culture and climate, relentless attention to special populations and delivering excellent instruction to advance our equity indicators in Algebra I, third grade reading proficiency, graduation and college acceptance rates.
“As parents, family caretakers and taxpaying citizens, we recognize that providing adequate funding for our children's education is one of the best investments we can make to ensure Hartford's prosperous future. Our public schools made significant strides in the last decade, doing so under consecutive years of flat general budgets,” said Dr. Narvaez. “Students come first, so reductions have started at the district's Central Office and within my senior leadership team. These reductions will be significant, but they will not be enough. We will have to realign both programming and services in our schools.”
After almost a decade of consecutive flat funding for Hartford Public Schools, this proposal represents a $19.3 million or 4.4% decrease in the total budget compared to fiscal year 2015-16, reducing approximately 236 positions. This decrease stems from the special funds budget, which now stands at $138.3 million for next year.
The general fund budget recommendation remains flat at $284 million, reflecting no change from 2015-16. Yet, due to the continued fiscal challenges of the City of Hartford, Dr. Narvaez recommended that the Board not request an increase in the local share of support for education for the eighth consecutive year.
This budget shortfall will not be a one-year thing. In 2016-17, the district budget must account for increased costs exceeding $20.1 million, which includes contractual salary increases of $6.7 million, among others. The district needs to grapple with the competition for resources and the falling enrollment numbers at some of our schools.
Initial steps have also been taken to consolidate schools, such as Bulkeley Lower and Upper, while JC Clark Elementary School students have been relocated at surrounding neighborhood schools during their school’s temporary closure.
“Our schools and our children need access to the arts, to language courses, and they need exposure to multiple disciplines and diverse ways of thinking,” said Dr. Narvaez. “A school that is so small that it cannot offer many of these things robs children of a quality education. The time has come for us to face the tough reality and consequences of years of flat funding of the general fund, escalating costs, decreasing special funds, and the task of sustaining the various programs and schools that have been created throughout our city.”

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