News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, March 27, 2014
Brooklin school budget up 7.8 percent

by Anne Berleant

New roofing, higher transportation costs and two reinstated programs are behind the sharp increase in the 2014-15 Brooklin school budget. The good news is that not all of the increase will be passed on to taxpayers.

The board-approved proposed budget stands at $1,810,297—a 7.8 percent or $131,397 increase from this year. To help mitigate the burden, the board is using $70,000 of “balance forward” money—funds leftover from previous school budgets. Overall, taxpayers will shoulder $86,577 more than last year, a 5.5 percent increase.

Behind the increase is $25,000 toward replacing a portion of the school roof, plus $50,000 pulled from a reserve account; a $38,977 spike in the transportation line, for students not covered by the bus contract and higher fuel costs; a return to one day of guidance and an afterschool homework club.

The one-day-per-week guidance program was cut for 2013-14 to “help compensate for the pre-K expansion,” said Principal Halina Nawrot. It will return in 2014-15 at a cost of $9,937. The afterschool homework club, budgeted at $2,700, is returning after the board and Nawrot “decided the program was helpful,” she continued.

The big expense—the roof—will cost about $100,000; $25,000 was raised last year.

A new teacher contract, ratified at the March 11 board meeting, provides $1,500 raises for each teacher.

In all $337,346 is budgeted for teacher salaries, a $6,928 total increase, plus about $88,500 in health and dental insurance benefits.

The elementary instruction line is $537,753, up $56,254 or 11.6 percent. Adding an instructional aide at a cost of $18,600 in salary and benefits, an $8,199 increase in health insurance costs, $8,940 in local contributions to teacher retirement fund—a new state requirement—and $8,100 for English as a Second Language funding are mainly behind the jump.

However, that rise is tempered by a $38,845 drop in secondary education costs, which stand at $311,607.

On the revenue side, the annual state subsidy is projected at $40,000, and despite a $58,000 preliminary amount released by the Department of Education after the budget was approved, Superintendent Mark Jenkins said, “It won’t stay that way,” at the March 11 board meeting.

School enrollment currently stands at 67 pre-K to eighth grade students, according to the Union 76 office, up from 58 one year ago, with 12 full- and part-time teachers.