News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, February 21, 2019
Brooklin School Board approves $1.9M budget for 2019-20
3% increase; taxation increase 2%

Under discussion

Board member Frank Bianco and Principal Jil Blake discuss costs in the proposed 2019-20 Brooklin School budget January 23, before a unanimous board approval.

Photo by Anne Berleant Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Anne Berleant

In a unanimous vote, school board members passed a $1,944,078 budget for 2019-20, an increase of $57,513 or 3 percent. Of that amount, taxpayers will be asked to raise $35,124, or 2 percent more than last year.

A school budget is more than just numbers, though. In Brooklin, as the board continues work on its strategic plan, the budget also reflects a shift in focus in some areas. A preschool program for 3-year-olds now in its first year will continue, with a half-time teacher position becoming a full-time one. The pre-K program will continue, with 4-year-olds joined with kindergarten students.

“We made a decision as a school and a community,” board member Libby Chamberlain said of the early education push, especially in light of dwindling federal Title 1 funds used to address students faltering in their academic progress. “I think that will make a huge impact down the road for those kids.”

The board is asking for $650,674 for its regular elementary education program, a $35,897 increase balanced by $27,795 less in high school tuition, although special education tuition for secondary students is up $24,886. Replacing a special education teacher with an ed. tech. saves $20,205 in special education costs, made possible because fewer elementary students now require those services.

Transportation costs are up $21,892, the principal’s office costs are up nearly $26,000, and capital improvements are up $21,000, which includes installing cameras and the first of three projected lease purchase payments for a generator. Superintendent Chris Elkington shaved a proposed contingency budget of $15,000 to zero to lessen the overall increase, noting the school did not carry one in its previous budget.

On the revenue side, the school is projecting $76,000 in state subsidy, with a warrant article proposing that any increase from the state would be used to reduce the amount raised through taxation, as will $55,000 taken from carryforward, or surplus. The budget has no reserve account requests but is asking for $6,790 to fund an adult education program, to operate at the school under the direction of the CSD 13 adult education program. Sedgwick is also seeking to fund a similar program.