Barrington budget: $300,000 gap for schools

Last year's financial town meeting drew a large crowd in Barrington. There's a budget hearing tonight, May 14, at 7 at the middle school. Last year's financial town meeting drew a large crowd in Barrington. There's a budget hearing tonight, May 14, at 7 at the middle school.

Last year's financial town meeting drew a large crowd in Barrington. There's a budget hearing tonight, May 14, at 7 at the middle school.

Last year’s financial town meeting drew a large crowd in Barrington. There’s a budget hearing tonight, May 14, at 7 at the middle school.

Late last week school officials began the task of digging even deeper into the department’s proposed budget in search of savings.

On Wednesday night, May 7, members of the town’s committee on appropriations told school officials they were recommending a $900,000 increase to the budget. That’s about $300,000 less than school administrators were hoping to receive.

So on Thursday morning, the department’s director of finance, Ron Tarro, and the superintendent, Michael Messore, started re-examining the budget for more potential savings.

Barrington school officials are requesting a $1.218 million increase to the existing $45.337 million budget. Those increases are slated to cover contractual costs — teachers’ salaries and benefits — as well as $612,293 to pay for a new all-day kindergarten program, $25,724 for a math specialist at the middle school, and $50,000 for the implementation of a communication plan. The district’s request for technology funding — $275,000 — was included in the combined capital reserve account.

“The school committee asked to see if we could come back with more savings without adversely affecting programming,” Mr. Messore said.

The request comes late in the budget cycle. The annual budget hearing is scheduled for tonight, May 14, at 7 p.m.; the hearing will be held in the middle school auditorium.

The annual financial town meeting, where residents will be asked to vote on the proposed municipal and school department budgets, is set for Wednesday, May 28 at the high school auditorium.

Officials said they would do their best to find additional savings, but added that reductions had already been identified.

About a month ago, Mr. Messore and Mr. Tarro shared news of other cost-saving measures — the district was projecting about $220,000 in savings, including $72,000 less than originally expected in medical insurance costs.

Those reductions dropped the school department’s budget increase request from $1.438 million to $1.218 million, which, if approved, would push the district’s total budget to $46.5 million. Officials said the net impact to taxpayers would be $445,834 after considering state education aid coming to Barrington.

“Our job is making sure we provide the best quality education to students,” Mr. Tarro said.

“While being fiscally responsible,” Mr. Messore added.

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