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by Jessica Brophy
Budget discussion and planning that began more than six months ago has resulted in a proposed 2012-13 school budget of $6,466,480—a 2.16 percent or $136,877 increase of this year’s $6,329,609 budget.
While the budget is up 2.16 percent, a 45 percent increase of the state subsidy will reduce the local share of the budget by .13 percent. This means the proposed budget will cost local taxpayers $7,522 less than last year, if it is not amended at the June 7 meeting. The state subsidy is increasing in part due to the suspension of a penalty put on schools that did not consolidate.
In terms of changes in staff and teaching next year, kindergarten through fourth grade will have two classes for each grade, with one fifth grade class, and four teachers for the middle school grades 6-8. This year, there is only one second grade classroom. The middle school currently has five teachers, and will be reduced by one full-time literacy teacher.
A proposed reduction of the gifted and talented teacher position from four days per week to two-and-a-half days per week reduced the budget by $26,709.
At the high school, the half-time librarian will be replaced by a part-time library aide for a savings of approximately $15,000, if the budget is passed as presented.
The first draft of the budget, which the board had requested be flat, included a cut of all extra-curricular coaching stipends at $63,000. Those monies were later put back into the budget, after it was discovered those stipends are contractually obligated.
Another $60,000 was added to the budget to create two reserve accounts for $30,000 apiece, one for technology and another for maintenance. The technology reserve will help replace aging netbooks at the high school, and the maintenance reserve starts a fund to help pay for the replacement of siding and soffits at the high school, a project which could cost $150,000.
The public meeting to act on the school budget will take place on Thursday, June 7, at 7 p.m. at the high school. The budget will then go to a referendum vote in each town to confirm the decision at the public hearing.
Voting will take place at the respective towns’ offices on Tuesday, June 12. In Deer Isle and Stonington, polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.