Members of the East Lyme school board, school officials, and members of the public on a Zoom teleconference Thursday night

East Lyme School Board Votes for $826,900 Reduction to 2020-21 Budget Request

EAST LYME — The Board of Education Thursday voted Thursday night to reduce their 2020-21 budget request by about $826,903 amid concerns about the impacts of the coronavirus on the town’s finances.

The cuts come three days after the Board of Selectmen voted to recommend the finance board make a $312,000 reduction to the selectmen’s budget.

After the cut, East Lyme Board of Education is requesting that the Board of Finance approve a $50.87 million budget, a 3.30 percent increase over the school board’s 2019-20 budget.

The $826,900 reduction consists mostly of reductions in requests for added staff — $304,650 for elementary school teachers, $121,860 for math coaches, $64,120 for paraprofessional hours, $60,930 for a social worker, $33,319 for custodian hours, $32,955 for two part-time secretaries, and $30,465 for global language teacher hours.

While looking for reductions earlier in the week, the school board had considered reducing their requests for added investments in school technology. Instead, the school board and administration increased their initial technology request by $75,000 and voted for reductions to textbooks, instructional supplies, and maintenance funds.

Assistant Superintendent Amy Drowne said that the pandemic closing schools and forcing the district to teach students at a distance emphasized the importance of giving students effective technology for learning.

“That has now deepened even more because we really need to acclimate our students to not only have a classroom-based experience, but to have an online-based experience,” Drowne said, “and to really move seamlessly between the two. We need to provide tools in the classrooms that students can utilize outside the classrooms so that there’s some consistency there.”

This technology budget would cover the costs of ensuring every student in the district has their own school-provided laptop or tablet for kindergarten and first graders.

“I’m glad we’re blanketing the entire district and each child so that every child will have the opportunity to succeed,” said school board member Candice Carlson.

The school board is expected to present their budget to the Board of Finance next week.

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