Superintendent of Schools David Title on Tuesday proposed an operating budget of almost $156.2 million for the 2013-14 school year, a nearly 5 percent increase over this year's budget of $148.9 million.
"It's always a challenge to try to put together a budget in a high-performing district, in a very well-regarded district that continues to improve what we have while at the same time does everything we can to keep the increase as low as possible," Title said as he presented his spending plan to the Board of Education.
Title said the "budget driver" of the requested 4.86 percent increase over the current $148,936,434 budget -- resulting in a proposed operating budget of $156,171,651 -- is the sharp rise in the cost of health insurance. That cost accounts for $5,431,206, or three-quarters, of the total proposed increase of $7,235,217, he said.
"So, my strategy was to do everything we could to try control the rest of the budget, whatever we could control," he said.
Title requested an $810,756 increase in staff salaries to $98,901,197 with a projected net increase of 100 students district-wide for next year. He said he was concerned, however, with having enough staff next year to accommodate the state's required new teacher and administration evaluation guidelines.
"I don't know right now what the impact on staff will be to implement that," he said.
Title said he added $23,000 to the budget to add part-time coverage for the library and computer labs in the afternoon.
He said he did not make a recommendation to reinstitute the World Language program because of its cost and its elimination has allowed additional instruction time for language arts.
He said there was no specific dollar amount earmarked for school security because the costs for buzzers and cameras on school buildings is part of this year's budget. Any major infrastructure improvements would be budgeted as a capital improvement project and any police personnel at the schools would come out of the police department's budget, he said.
Last year, Title asked for an operating budget just under $149.5 million, representing a 2.6 percent increase over the previous year's final operating budget of $145.7 million.
The school board is scheduled to hold special meetings on the budget on Tuesday, Jan. 22, and Thursday, Jan. 24. They will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Board of Education Central Office, 501 Kings Highway East.
After the board acts on the education budget, it then moves on for action by the first selection, the Boards of Selectmen and Finance and, finally, the Representative Town Meeting.
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