Barrington schools seek $1.05 million budget increase
The public received its first glance at the school district’s proposed fiscal year 2014 operating budget Thursday night, a $46.1 million spending plan that includes a $1.058 million net impact to taxpayers.
Director of Administration and Finance Ron Tarro said the budget includes an overall spending increase of about $1.415 million, or 3.17 percent. While the budget as presented to the school committee identified salary increases of about $580,000 (2 percent) and benefits increases of about $560,000 (5.5 percent), Mr. Tarro declined to discuss either area publicly.
The school committee is currently negotiating new collective bargaining agreements with the district teachers’ and custodians’ unions. Mr. Tarro said he would field questions from school committee members in executive session.
About 87 percent of the budget is tied to salaries and benefits, while Mr. Tarro said 97 percent of the total budget is set by contractual, operational and mandated services.
The budget also includes a single additional full-time position at the middle school and possibly Sowams School to accommodate enrollment, along with a placeholder for funding of an all-day kindergarten program.
Details of what an all-day kindergarten program look like in Barrington will be explored in coming weeks by a school committee sub-committee.
Additionally, the budget includes $275,000 in capital reserves for technology. School Superintendent Michael Messore said this money is aimed at addressing present replacement needs and attempting to provide a mobile device for every teacher. Mr. Messore said a small percentage of the technology money is also slated for implementation of an online assessment tool coming online in the 2014-15 school year.
In terms of revenue, Mr. Tarro said the district is looking at an additional $984,000 in state aid through on-going implementation of a statewide education funding formula. Other revenues, however, look to be down over last year such as Medicaid reimbursement ($25,000) and school surplus funds ($200,000).
The overall revenue, expenditure and capital figures bring the net impact to taxpayers number to $1.058 million or a 2.37 percent bump over the current year.
Mr. Tarro said the budget was guided by the district’s strategic plan and school committee priorities. Implementation of common core state standards is a major category of the budget along with other areas including salaries and benefits, special education, transportation, utilities and maintenance.
The budget will be back before the school committee on Thursday, Feb. 21. Should the school committee sign off on the proposal, it will head to the appropriations committee.
Mr. Tarro said the district will provide the committee with classified documents to aid in its budget discussion.
School committee member Scott Fuller said it’s going to be a “frustrating year” with negotiations underway behind closed doors but he called for the process to be as transparent as possible given the circumstances.
To see the budget presentation, click here.