HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – School districts across the state are laying out their budgets for the next school year, but some superintendents say it’s going to be challenging to get enough funding.
Schools are dealing with two major issues: the loss of federal emergency COVID grants and inflation. In Hamden, school leaders say without help from the state or taxpayers, program cuts are possible.
“It’s one thing when you’re already at the bone, now you’re at the marrow,” said Gary Highsmith, Superintendent of Hamden Public Schools.
Hamden Public Schools are concerned about next school year’s budget. Highsmith said the issues lie with necessities like transportation and utilities.
“Those operational needs still exist, but the money doesn’t,” Highsmith said.
Highsmith has proposed a $99.8 million budget for next year, which is an increase of about $8.5 million over this year. He says the nearly $100 million budget proposal does not include any new hires or programs.
The end of federal COVID money has the district looking locally to the town and state, but Hamden Mayor Lauren Garrett says the town can’t cover it.
“Not just from the town alone, it’s not possible,” Garrett said. “If the state doesn’t come through on the increase from the Board of Education for Hamden and for municipalities across the state, it’s going to be a really big hit to us.”
The $8.5 million is a near 10% increase compared to their last budget. Highsmith says it’s too early to speculate, but if the money doesn’t come through, staff and students would be impacted.
“There would be some staffing cuts they would have to make, and pretty significant,” Garrett said. “Eight and a half million dollars is a lot of money.”
Highsmith is hoping the state will help through their educational cost sharing grant. The budget is expected to be approved in May.