- Editor's note: The dollar increase originally printed was incorrect, and missing a digit. It has since been corrected.
By the Numbers:
Draft Administrators' Plan: $42,708,466
Current Budget: 42,028,394
Percent Increase: 1.62%
Dollar Increase: $680,072
Total Tax Rate Increase 1.98%
Total Tax Levy Increase: 1.83%
Tax Rate Per $1000 Assessed Value: $746.38, up $14.52 from current tax rate.
Superintendent Timothy Connors presented his preliminary budget to the Board of Education and an audience of about 20 community members Monday—many members of the Citizens' Advisory Committee and PTSA.
The budget increases spending on instruction by about $300,000, a percent change of 1 percent.
One of the major concerns of parents in attendance was class sizes of current sixth graders as they move to seventh grade next year.
"We're asking for an additional section of each academic class for next year's seventh grade," said PTSA co-president Lisa Litvin. According to Litvin, the class has 131 students, with five sections for each core academic class. Adding one more section would reduce average class sizes from 26 to 22.
"We're also hoping to add classes in the high school so that fewer students are forced to take study hall periods," she added.
According to Connors there is money in the budget to add these sections and reduce class sizes.
"Because of changes in numbers within grade levels, we are confident we will be able to make class sizes lower in next year's seventh grade," Connors said. "We believe that we already have the staff within the district to reorganize and make these changes."
Connors also proposes to add a director of Curriculum and Instruction with a salary of $150,000. Last year's budget allowed for a person to serve in this role for a salary of $145,000—though the position was never filled.
"Because of new state standards there is a lot of work to do," he said. "The post is needed to ensure we are complying with state standards."
The budget also calls for doubling the Arts/Culture in Education budget from $5,000 to $10,000—which garnered applause from many parents in attendance.
Despite having joined a consortium with all four Rivertowns villages, the company broke that contract and out-of-district transportation will go out to bid again this year. However, transportation in total only accounts for 3.6 percent of the district's budget.
Distict Business director Maureen Caraballo also noted that they will be changing employees' insurance company back to their original provider (after switching two years ago) because the first company came in with a lower bid.
Connors and Caraballo are confident that they will be able to stay within the state's legislated 2 percent tax levy cap—regardless of what happens.
Now, the next step os for the Budget Advisory Committee to tear the proposal apart, scrutinize every aspect of it and discuss it with the board. This will be an ongoing process that continues until the community vote on May 17.
What questions or comments do you have for the Board or Superintendent Connors? Post them here and we'll ask!