Schools Seek 6.18 Percent Increase

The school department is seeking a 6.18 percent increase in its budget for fiscal year 2016, which begins July 1, 2015.

Superintendent of Schools John Macero presented a budget packet last Thursday night that seeks $17,997,378. That’s $1,047,378 more than fiscal year 2015 budget of $16,950,000. The budget also includes a proposed athletic revolving budget (money raised outside of the budget) and fiscal year 15 grants. Within the total budget are budgets for each school.

The main request from school leaders was for a dedicated technology person who could help with troubleshooting, setup and operation of new technology such as Chrome Pads, Ipads, copiers, software and computers. Ebooks are being phased into the high school in the subjects of social studies, English and world languages. So far there are four technology staff right now for the town, three of them are funded through the school department.

“We would like to have two for day to day issues,” Macero said. “If the town is going to grow technology then both sides are going to have to put in.”

The W.P. Gorman Fort Banks Elementary School (grades K-3) submitted a budget request of $4,834,130 for FY16 up from current fiscal year budget of $4,555,892. Fort Banks Principal Ilene Pearson outlined several areas to consider when reviewing the budget. There has been an increase in the number of preschoolers with disabilities. She is seeking a teacher and a paraprofessional to help handle the increase. She is also seeking a math tutor, math textbooks and English language arts textbooks.

Principal Ryan Heraty, head of the the Arthur T. Cummings Elementary School (grades 4-7) has presented a budget of $4,711,510 for FY16, up from the FY15 budget of $4,565,736. The request includes $50,000 for a math coach and $19,333 for textbooks that partner with the GoMath program.

The proposed budget for the high school is $4,630,834 for FY16 up from $4,359,740 and includes requests for $37,481 worth of Ebooks, which would replace 2,800 books. High school Principal Eileen Belastock said this year there has been a reduction in funds for supplies because she found they were purchasing supplies that didn’t get used.

“Now we’re giving the teachers the supplies they need,” she said, adding they have also cut back on postage, paper and envelopes because of technology.

Belastock is also seeking three additional staff members for a total of $85,000 due to increased enrollment. One would be an English Language Learners teacher and the other would be a World Language teacher.

In the area of pupil personnel services, Jennifer O’Connell, head of the department, outlined the need for increased transportation for special education and homeless students. The total projected department tuitions for FY16 is $1,172,680 up from $1,058,842 in FY15.

“Special education is unpredictable and the projections change from month to month,” O’Connell stated.

One final part of the budget is athletics. The total cost to fund the department is approximately $486,207. Of that amount $259,527 must be raised by users fees, gate receipts, scholarship and advertising. Macero noted that user fees and receipts have gone down. In order to maintain the current user fee of $225, another $50,000 has to be added to the athletic expenditure line.

There will be a public hearing on the budget on March 9. By March 23 the school department would like to make a recommendation to the town manager on the budget. The town manager is the one who could change the request.

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