Schools seek 4.3% budget hike

Written by Administrator
 | Wednesday, 05 December 2012 16:00

The school department is requesting $1.3 million more for its budget next year.

Business Manager Susan Nauman gave the school committee her preliminary budget report for fiscal year 2014, which begins next July 1. The budget totals over $31.23 million, a 4.35 percent increase over the current year’s budget of $29.93 million.

For the 2014 budget, Nauman said she must meet negotiated contractual increases of $774,238, a 2.59 percent increase over the current year.

This figure includes $50,000 for bus transportation, $14,224 for special education bus monitors, $102,698 for faculty and staff contractual increases, and $607,316 for steps and columns, or teacher pay raises. Steps are annual pay raises determined by years of experience and columns are increases based on education and course credits, such as a master’s degree plus 15 additional course credits.

Also part of the FY14 budget are level service increases totaling $206,844, an 0.69 percent increase. A level service budget, said Nauman is “to provide the same level of education as we have been offering in the previous year.”

“We are trying to invest in our special education programs and meet our contractual obligations and our energy and transportation costs,” Nauman said.

The increase includes $51,356 for special needs out of district tuition, $36,000 for special needs summer programs, $20,000 for ongoing classroom improvements such as white boards, $17,843 for technology to lease new laptops for teachers in all four schools, $29,102 for classroom supplies, and $52,543 for AP science and world language textbooks.

In the part of the FY14 budget titled “essential staffing and classroom needs,” Nauman lists an additional $321,350 that the schools need to meet staffing requirements due to fluctuating enrollment.

This amount includes an extra $60,000 for two reading specialist positions and a speech and language therapist at the Chandler and Alden elementary schools; $62,000 for the special education behavior education program that’s moving from the middle to the high school; $70,000 for a social studies grades 6-12 curriculum supervisor; $150,000 for three full-time teachers at the high school to replace those lost in 2011 due to lower enrollment; $20,000 to give substitute teachers a $5 pay raise to bring Duxbury’s rate to $70 per day and closer to surrounding towns, which pay $75 daily; and $9,350 for a part time fifth grade band and orchestra music teacher at Alden. Also listed as part of this budget is a loss of $50,000, or a decrease of one full time position at the middle school; the middle school is hoping to shift staff to hire a teacher to teach a new STEM course. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

State Representative Tom Calter, who represents the 12th Plymouth District, attended the school committee meeting.

He cautioned the school committee to budget conservatively because of the uncertainty at the federal level and lower than anticipated state  revenues.

Calter said that state revenue projections were a quarter of a billion dollars off what was expected in the first quarter.

“Until we can fill in some of the unknowns, I would approach the FY14 budget with extreme caution,” he said. “We’ve got some real challenges ahead.”

Calter said that maintaining local aid and Chapter 70 school aid at their current levels were still his top priorities, and that he was going to file legislation in the beginning of the next session to change the special education formula.

The school’s FY14 operating and capital budget presentations are available on the school department’s Web site.