Proposed School Spending Up 3.7%
Barrington School Committee sees a proposed budget for next year that boosts local property taxes about $1 million or 2.37 percent.
The Barrington School Committee got a look at a proposed operating budget for next year that shows a 2.37 percent boost or $1.05 million hike in local property taxes.
The budget is still very much a work in progress because of contract negotiations with the teachers’ union – although an estimated amount for salaries and benefits is already built into the budget.
As presented by Ron Tarro, finance director, on Thursday night, the new proposed budget is $46.128 million or about $1.45 million more than the current budget. That is a 3.7 percent hike.
An increase of approximately $1.138 million is estimated for additional compensation for all employees. That leaves an estimated $310,000 for other operating expenses.
Tarro explained that the budget has been put together so far by taking into account the goals of the new Strategic Plan, including School Committee priorities, all-day kindergarten, and the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. He described it as a “zero-based budget” built from the ground up and by comparing staffing levels to specialized programs.
The major budget categories are salaries and benefits (approximately 87 percent of the budget), special education, curriculum implementation, transportation, utilities and maintenance of facilities.
Approximately 97 percent of the budget, Tarro said, is "committed to contractual, operational and mandated services."
Still to be determined, he said, are changes in full-time equivalent (FTE) positions for kindergarten, a middle school eighth-grade class and a possible Sowams School second-grade class.
Tarro said he could not answer in public specific questions about certain aspects of the budget, such as the amount built into the spending plan for new teacher salaries and benefits while negotiations are underway. He is a member of the negotiating team.
School Committee member Scott Fuller said he recognized that certain budget aspects have to remain behind closed doors right now. But, he said, he wants the budget-creation process to be as transparent as possible for taxpayers.
“I don’t want to get to May 10,” he said, without knowing what taxpayers can expect on the eve of the Financial Town Meeting.