That amount, if voted through by FTM attendees, would bump the overall school department budget increase to $1,533,000 — the committee on appropriations had already recommended a $900,000 increase for the schools.
The current school budget is $45 million, while the town’s current tax rate is $18 per $1,000 of assessed property value. If the amendment is approved, the tax rate would climb to $18.45, as opposed to the proposed increase to $18.20.
Ms. Morton’s amendment does not specify what the money be used for, which is appropriate since the school department budget is viewed as a single, bottom line figure, not a line item budget. However, the $633,000 figure has been directly tied to the cost of adding a full-day kindergarten program in Barrington schools this fall. Initially, officials placed a $141,000 placeholder in the budget for the program, but more recently increased the estimate to $633,000.
School officials are split on whether to add full-day K this fall. Superintendent Michael Messore and committee member Scott Fuller both recommend waiting until next year to add the program, while committee members Patrick Guida, Bob Shea, Kate Brody and Paula Dominguez want it added this fall. Some parents in town are also petitioning for the sooner implementation — a petition has circulated calling for the quicker change, and parents have spoken out at public meetings asking for the full-day K.
The financial town meeting is set for Wednesday, May 22 at the Barrington High School auditorium at 7 p.m.