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Brunswick schools ready to adopt budget, await word on concessions from teachers

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Brunswick schools ready to adopt budget, await word on concessions from teachers

BRUNSWICK — With final details of a new teachers contract unsettled, the Brunswick School Board is preparing to adopt a $32.8 million spending plan.

The budget represents a 2.13 percent decrease from current spending, but still represents a 1 percent increase to the town's property tax rate. The tax increase is driven largely by a $3.5 million revenue loss, 69 percent of which is due to a sharp cut in state education aid.

The School Board is set to adopt the budget on May 12. However, as of early Thursday, the district was still awaiting word on a new contract with teachers.

The School Department has asked the teachers union for several concessions, including a freeze on salary increases and a moratorium on district-paid graduate courses.

Superintendent of Schools Paul Perzanoski said the freeze would exclude so-called step increases. Citing ongoing negotiations, he declined to detail the duration of the proposed contract, pay freeze or the moratorium on graduate courses.

Earlier this week, Perzanoski told the Town Council that he expected to hear from the union on Wednesday. But on Wednesday evening, he said the new deal had yet to be accepted.

The concessions are included in the proposed $32.8 million spending plan. If rejected by the union, Perzanoski said the School Board's adoption of the budget would be delayed.

So far, the district's cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, administrative secretaries and administrators have agreed to forgo wage increases for fiscal 2011.

The educational technicians union spurned a request to accept a wage freeze for fiscal 2011. Holding back the 3.25 percent raise would have saved the district about $53,000.

Originally, the education technicians also rejected a moratorium on district paid courses. However, Perzanoski said Monday that the union has now accepted that concession.

The proposed budget includes the elimination of 18 resource assistants, who provide students with extra help in reading and math. The layoffs represent nearly $423,000 of about $1.6 million in proposed reductions.

In addition, the district is cutting $120,000 from its technology department and more than $114,600 from its substitutes, overtime and supplies budget line.

Six of the district's 10 spending areas will experience reductions from current spending. Two areas will increase significantly: administration (9.6 percent) and debt service (58 percent). The latter is driven by the construction of the new elementary school.

Perzanoski said administration increased because one employee will be doing two jobs: curriculum coordinator and principal of the new Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or smistler@theforecaster.net