There's been a jump in enrollment at Danbury Schools, which has prompted a $1.3 million emergency funding request to the state by Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella. The district planned for an increase of 2-percent, but the projections fell short and there's been a 5.6 percent student population increase.
Pascarella wrote a letter to the Board of Ed saying they have witnessed an unprecedented and alarming increase in new student registrations in the last 30 days that will further strain the ability to provide an appropriate education to students under the approved budget. He called it a highly unusual and wholly unexpected situation in a letter to the state Education Commissioner.
Since the close of the last school year, the District received 619 newly registered students. They've estimated a net increase of 350 K-12 students. Pascarella says historical data suggests the district can expect about 60 additional students during the month of September.
Many of the students require additional educational services, as they are identified as High Need. Pascarella says the district needs additional bilingual education teachers and additional high school core course teachers. There's also an increase in mandated OT and PT services, all at a cost of $433,000. 100 additional desks have been ordered for the high school, at a cost of $30,000. The estimated $600,000 special education budget needs to be increased by $250,000. Three additional buses will cost $210,000.
Pascarella says the modular classrooms at the elementary and middle schools, new building additions at the elementary and high school levels, and the reopening of a previously shuttered building as an intradistrict magnet middle school have left them with few options for expansion into unused space.
Democratic mayoral challenger Chris Setaro faults Mayor Mark Boughton for not regulating residential development growth on the west side.
Boughton responded that the increase is due to existing houses turning over. He quotes from a Board Of Ed study that found three blocks of Osborne Street generate as many students as one 470 unit project. Boughton says it will take about $600,000 to hire new teachers and cover the cost of transportation.
Pascarella said in a letter to the Board of Education that Boughton promised an additional $600,000 for special education costs. But the matter has not yet been presented to the City Council.