Barrington school budget battle puts all-day K in doubt
The Barrington School Committee and the Committee on Appropriations were unable to strike a consensus on the budget during a meeting Thursday night.
Members of the committee on appropriations entered the meeting with a recommendation to give the schools a $900,000 increase on the $46 million budget. The school committee, meanwhile, had started the budget season with a proposed increase of about $1.7 million. After signing a new teachers' contract that included a first-year salary freeze, the committee had been able to whittle down its request to about $1.2 million.
At Thursday's meeting, committee on appropriations chairwoman Kathy Cadigan tried to strike a compromise with the boards, hoping that all officials could enter the May 22 financial town meeting in agreement. She proposed a $1.1 million increase for the school department, but asked that school committee members agree to one stipulation: that they not support any future amendment filed by residents requesting money be added to the school budget.
Some of the school board members would not agree.
Bob Shea and Kate Brody said they would not feel comfortable with the deal. Scott Fuller had previously offered the same deal to the committee on appropriations, but was alone in his willingness to agree to the pact.
The discussion, which ran for more than an hour, ended with members of the committee on appropriations excusing themselves from the meeting, which had grown contentious at times.
The future of full-day kindergarten in Barrington schools seems in doubt for this fall. Officials disclosed Thursday night that the initial estimate of $144,000 for establishing a district-wide full-day kindergarten program was not going to be enough. The more recent estimate was $633,000.
The increased estimate dropped a shadow of doubt on whether officials would be able to bring the full-day kindergarten program to local schools this fall. A subcommittee is expected to bring its recommendation to the school committee on May 16.