Board of Education begins budget review during February 26 meeting

The board went over the proposed budget plan at its February 26 meeting. More information was to be available in the March 9 meeting.

Goals include a budget that manages short and long term facilities—and planning for a new strategic plan that will continue in the vein of the current roadmap. This includes investing in facilities and maintenance. The largest budget categories are instruction, benefits and general support.

It was said that the drivers in this year’s budget were contractual salary increases for employees—78 percent of the budget—health insurance, pupil personnel services, two-percent to maintain contingency funds and continuing to use reserves as part of construction but not becoming dependent on them for regular costs. The district would be looking at a 1.93 percent year-to-year budget increase, which was noted to be low. Taxpayers were reminded that this is not everything that goes into calculating taxes. There is an allowable tax levy increase of 2.9 percent under the state law.

As for program enhancement, the budget would provide funds for professional development for the International Baccalaureate integration, the 1:1 Chromebook initiative, the high school’s increasing course selection, unified sports, varsity girls hockey team, special education teacher laptops, display devices, all-in-one desktops, the painting plan, and LED lighting. The athletic and special education budgets will be presented in the March 26 meeting.

Board members gave a quick update on strategic planning that focused on the recently-closed survey. The bond steering committee was able to review the updates from KG&D and Triton on projects and working with the companies to keep the budget on track.

There was also discussion of the follow-up on the study of the K-12 writing program, which included feedback and discussion. Further work focuses on online writing portfolios, and the company evaluating the program will be back in the following year to assess a new area, likely sciences.

The meeting began with the board recognizing Caitlin Wong, a Pelham Memorial High School senior, for her achievement in science research with a project “Assessing the Plasticity of Pain Through the Lens of People with Limb Loss.” She has been named among 300 students in the Regeneron Science Talent Search.