UPDATE: The Amity Board of Education budget passed on June 14.
We were proud to support teachers, administrators, staff and students during the budget approval process and will continue to do so throughout the year.
NEXT VOTE: Amity Budget Referendum - June 14 at HPCC
Let's get this budget passed!
Support teachers, school staff and students!
The BoE-approved budget includes a 2.5% (est.) increase for the 2022-23 school year, driven by 3 main factors:
1) Personnel salary increases - a baseline 2.5% contracted increase.
2) Security and information technology positions were added for additional protection against physical and cyber threats.
3) The district has expanded special education services due to increased demand. Two new teaching positions were added to expand elective opportunities for students who currently lack such options.
Why new teaching positions are needed if enrollment is declining:
The number of core sections, electives and advanced course offerings have been maintained to continue Amity’s academic excellence. Special education students were previously sent out of district. With increasing demand for these services, it was more cost effective to provide services in district, even with declining enrollment.
Since 2003 the district has saved $1,413,355 in out-of-district tuition and transportation costs.
There's been a budget surplus in recent years; here's why it can't cover 2022-23 increase:
The surplus in the last two years was due to reduced operational expenses as many normal operations were hampered due to the pandemic. Reduced medical expenses have also been a main source of surpluses prior to the pandemic and during the past two years. We do not anticipate a significant surplus in future years as this line item has been adjusted. Medical spending this fiscal year is on target as budgeted.
A regional school district cannot carry over money from year to year. The budget must return to zero by spending all the money or return the unspent money to the towns served by the regional school district. At the end of the fiscal year, the board may designate up to 2% of unspent funds be placed in a capital non-recurring account for building repairs. The district has historically designated 1% to capital non-recurring account. This is done to avoid the costs of issuing bonds for such repair. If a regional school district runs out of money during the fiscal year, there must be a budget referendum to continue school operations.
Why Amity needs a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Instructional Coach:
The DEI Instructional coach position is one of several responses to student and community requests to improve school climate and culture, so that ALL students feel a sense of belonging and connection. The DEI Coach will support staff in applying the skills obtained from professional learning opportunities related to culturally responsive curricula and instruction in their classrooms. The coach will ensure curricula reflects the diversity of our student community and society. This aligns with the district's mission to prepare caring and effective citizens in the world. This will not change the academic rigor of our programs in any way.
Changes made to the Amity BoE budget since the first referendum include:
The budget increase was reduced from 3.99% to 3.59%, then to 3.19%. Funding for the DEI coach was shifted to state grants and non-instructional positions were removed.
Approving the budget means teachers, administrators, and staff can continue doing their work. Not passing it means delays, incurring costs for more elections, and may result in less support and security for students.
MORE DETAILS: Over $200,000 was cut from the budget since the May 3 "no" vote. These cuts consist of personnel positions including the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) coach, an administrative position that is going to be vacated through attrition, and a custodial position. The budget maintains the middle school elective media arts teachers (2,) the security guard and the cyber security technician.
GET INFORMED: Read the three budget letters (PDFs below) that were sent from the Amity district to Amity families with students at the middle and high schools. These letters explain and clarify the concerns over the budget. In addition to reading these, you can contact Carla Eichler or Paul Davis (our ABOE representatives) for further information. They can answer specific questions regarding what the role of the DEI coach is going to be and the DEI initiatives in the district.
Carla Eichler: email or (203) 676-0720
Paul Davis: email
Watch the Orange Town Meeting on May 11 on youtube or below:
At 21:26, First Selectman Jim Zeoli attempts to explain the DEI Coach position.
At 30:20, School Superintendent reads the mission statement on how DEI is handled in Orange.
At 35:30, resident Robert Lim masterfully educates them and everyone else about DEI resources.
Watch it to get some talking points in case you need to explain the issues to others.
Also, at the May 9 ABOE meeting, Dr. Byars did an excellent job explaining issues. We'll post video link if/when we have it.
DEI COACH: Originally the DEI coach was going to be paid for by using ESSER grant funds for .5 of the position and the Amity budget was funding the other .5. Now the DEI coach is being taken out of the budget and instead will be funded by ESSER, Open Choice and Title 1 funds. Even though the DEI position is no longer in the budget itself, there is still a concern that residents will come out and vote no because DEI is being added to the curriculum.
TAKE ACTION: We need your help getting out the vote for this referendum. We need every ODTC member to vote, bring their friends and spread the word. In addition, consider writing a letter to the New Haven Register or to the local newspapers in support of the budget. You may also consider sharing your opinion (respectfully) via Facebook or other social media platforms.