Bond costs, all-day K fuel 6.6% Falmouth school budget hike

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FALMOUTH — The School Department is proposing a 55-cent increase in the property tax rate to support next year’s $26.2 million school budget.

The increase, which does not take into account the municipal side of the budget, would mean a tax increase of $110, or 6.6 percent, for owners of a home assessed at $200,000.

While the proposed operating budget is $70,000 less than this year, beginning next year the town must take on the first year of interest payments for a new school, which adds 11.5 cents to the mil rate. The district has also lost $1.3 million in state and federal aid.

Falmouth has not had a mil rate increase in three years and the school operating budget has declined for the last two years.

Superintendent of Schools Barbara Powers introduced the fiscal 2012 budget Saturday with a new all day-kindergarten program, projected to cost $216,000 in its first year. The program would require the district to add 3 1/2 new teaching positions.

“We’ve had a lot of support for all-day kindergarten,” Powers said.

A previously discussed option of cutting the world languages program from grades 2-5, which would have cut $150,000 from the budget, was scrapped after hearing protests in a series of budget workshops and meetings.

“As of Saturday, that’s come off the table,” Finance Director Dan O’Shea said. “People don’t want to go there.”

Other cuts include 14 full-time equivalent positions, a reduction in the maximum hours ed techs can work and a reduction in custodial staff.

Other new proposals include adding a half-time high school social worker, a part-time at-risk coordinator for high school students in danger of dropping out and a computer technician.

The next two-year plan for the district will be discussed in a public workshop on Friday, March 18, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at Falmouth High School. The next School Board meeting is Monday, March 21, at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at Town Hall.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net

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