News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, February 1, 2018
With nod from selectmen, school board advances 2018-19 budget

by Anne Berleant

Balancing increases in revenue and cost, the Sedgwick school board approved a 2018-19 proposed budget of just over $2.5 million, an increase of $122,878 or 5.1 percent. But the effect on taxpayers, if passed at town meeting, is less than half that amount—a 2.3 percent rise from this year, Superintendent Chris Elkington said.

Using $35,000 in surplus, or balance forward money, $40,000 from an education maintenance reserve account and $15,000 from a special revenue fund totals $90,000 in local revenues to weigh against the increase.

“The board and I understand that we need to continue to look at ways to support our students’ growth and achievement while being careful and frugal with our budget and program planning,” Elkington said.

A new staff position in the preschool classroom because of high enrollment, and increases in teacher health insurance costs, are behind a $52,228 increase in elementary instruction costs; secondary education costs are up just over $9,000; special education costs are up $20,000, and student and staff support costs, such as guidance, library, health and technology, are up about $15,000. Other areas see more modest increases or will remain basically flat.

Elkington and board chairman Susan Ford met with selectmen January 18 to discuss a near-final version of the budget, and selectmen noted their approval.

“Excellent presentation by the Superintendent,” reflect minutes from that meeting.

Since taking on the superintendent position, Elkington and the school board have upped communication with selectmen at budget time and throughout the year, which Second Selectman Michael Sheahan noted.

“I think we’re pretty pleased with the effort to keep us informed and make [the budget] as affordable as possible,” he said.