Brunswick School Board begins budget talks

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BRUNSWICK — The School Board began budget discussions Wednesday with the first of five public meetings to be held on the topic over the next month.

Superintendent Paul Perzanoski gave a breakdown of the proposed operational budgets of each school, as well as the operational budget of the REAL School. He also reviewed costs related to technology, special education, student and staff support and athletics and co-curricular activities.

The next budget presentation will take place March 7, to discuss needs related to Region 10 Technical School; school and system-wide administration; central office and School Board debt service, and costs related to the curriculum office.

A presentation on costs for facilities, maintenance, grounds, food service and transportation will take place March 14, and a public forum will be held March 21. On March 28 the School Board will hold a special meeting on the total budget package.

At the school board’s Feb. 14 meeting, an overview of the proposed fiscal 2019 budget and process was presented.

According to the Feb. 28 presentation, Brunswick Junior High is the only school with a higher proposed operational budget than last year, with an increase of around $8,000. That is due to a $10,000 request to increase interdisciplinary unit development, and continue a SmartMusic software subscription that is currently being paid for by music boosters.

Brunswick High School’s proposed operating budget is $21,000 less than last year, Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School’s is $16,000 less and Coffin Elementary School’s is down about $1,500.

Perzanoski said Coffin Elementary School’s operational budget has an emphasis on personnel costs, due to a decline in funds from Title I and Title II grants. He added that district-wide, there are no significant new requests for athletics in the upcoming year.

Student and staff support, which includes services of guidance counselors, health, librarians and professional development was reduced by just under $41,000. The majority of the reduction can be attributed to $32,000 in professional development funds being moved to Title II funding.

Perzanoski also spoke at length about special education costs. He said Brunswick has 10 students enrolled in the REAL school and eight students that have been placed in other school districts. Perzanoski said having 10 students in the REAL school saves the district money on out-of-district tuition.

The fiscal 2019 budget proposal, he added, includes out-of-district tuition and services of more than $451,000. This year, the School Department only budgeted $300,000 from an Individuals with Disabilities Education Act grant, leaving a potential $151,000 increase in the budget.

Perzanoski said the increase has not been finalized, however, and that the department is looking at moving some positions out of the grant to save some money, since it is required to pay an extra 25 percent for retirement funds on positions covered by federal grants.

“It’s almost like being penalized for hiring people in the grant,” he said. “So the increase to our operational budget may be $151,000, but we’re also looking at bringing students back, and those numbers have not been finalized yet, so this is a work in motion.”

He also discussed a proposal to increase educational technicians’ hours from the current 32.5 hours per week, and said the department is “still looking at” whether the change will be possible.

“They don’t have the opportunity sometimes to debrief with teachers after school about how the day has gone for some of their students,” Perzanoski said. “(We feel) that is extremely important.”

Also included in the presentation was a tiered list of proposed new personnel at each of the schools. An assistant principal at Coffin Elementary was the only position falling under Tier III.

Perzanoski said the plan is to have the assistant principal position fall under the Tier I category next year, as the department has two years before it will be necessary with the addition of the new Jordan Acres Elementary School.

“We’ll need it a year before the new building opens,” he said.

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or eclemente@theforecaster.net. Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente.

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