Barrington budget: All-day kindergarten funding intact

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A plan to bring all-day kindergarten to Barrington schools moved one step closer to reality this week.

At a meeting on Tuesday night, May 13, school officials and members of the town’s committee on appropriations reached a compromise regarding the district’s proposed budget.

The compromise, said school officials, secures the funding necessary to build a new all-day kindergarten program in local schools. (Barrington currently offers half-day kindergarten.)

“Last year we set a goal of establishing an all-day kindergarten program. With the support of the school committee and the committee on appropriations, we’re almost there,” said Barrington Superintendent of Schools Michael Messore. “We’re one step away.”

Mr. Messore is referring to the May 28 financial town meeting where voters will have the final say on the school department and municipal government proposed budgets. Should the budgets be approved without significant changes, school officials will begin the process of hiring new kindergarten teachers and altering the facilities to accommodate the program.

“It will be a busy summer,” Mr. Messore said.

At the annual budget hearing on Wednesday night, May 14, members of the committee on appropriations presented their budget recommendations — the group is asking that voters approve a $1,038,000 increase to the school budget. If that happens, the total school budget would increase to $46.3 million.

School officials had been requesting a $1.218 million increase, while appropriations members had settled on a $900,000 increase. The two sides discussed the budget on Tuesday night; appropriations members offered the increase to $1.038 and school officials agreed and marked a few items for reduction.

Mr. Messore said officials cut some money out of proposed school supplies budget, reduced the request for a communications program from $50,000 to $15,000 and also eliminated 1.5 requested teaching positions from the all-day kindergarten program.

Mr. Messore said the district’s projections for student population increases at the kindergarten level appear to be lower than originally anticipated.

The school district’s request for technology funding — $275,000 — was included in the combined capital reserve account.

Impact to taxpayers

According to information provided at Wednesday night’s budget hearing, taxpayers will be facing a potential .32 percent increase to the tax levy, if the proposed budgets are approved. That equates to a small increase on the tax rate — from $18.20 (per $1,000 of assessed property value) to $18.26.

Appropriations member Geoff Grove also reported that officials are recommending an increase to the motor vehicle tax exemption — from $1,000 to $1,500.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.