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Yarmouth School Board moves forward with $19.5M budget, no tax increase

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Yarmouth School Board moves forward with $19.5M budget, no tax increase

YARMOUTH — The School Committee will hold a second public hearing May 6 on its proposed $19.5 million budget.

The committee previously approved the fiscal year 2011 school budget and held its first public hearing Thursday, April 8.

The proposed spending plan represents a zero percent increase from this year. The property tax rate for education is proposed at $13.73 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Committee Chairman David Ray said the driving force in the budget is compensation – employee benefits and salaries – but an agreement from the Yarmouth teacher's union to accept a one-year wage freeze helped make the zero percent tax increase possible.

The teacher agreed to no increase in salaries for the first year of the three-year contract; an increase the following two years will be based on the cost of living. Salaries will be increased no less than 0.5 percent and no more than 2 percent the last two years.

Superintendent of Schools Judy Paolucci said there are a few changes to programming and positions, and the committee worked to shift jobs rather than eliminate them.

"We tried to look for natural places to make changes," she said. "We have worked to create as little effect on the students, and the adults."

Some of the budget changes include moving a fifth-grade teacher to fourth grade due to an increase in class size. There will be one fewer teacher in fifth grade, but the position has been relocated, not eliminated. In addition, a Middle School special educator position has been eliminated due to the changing needs of the students, Paolucci said. 

A half-time high school educational technician has retired and the position will not be filled, Paolucci said, and two part-time educational technicians at the elementary school have been eliminated.

The budget does provide for the supervision of the middle school athletic program and the high school weight program and higher level of financial support for football and girls ice hockey programs.

There are increases in electrical costs due to increase in capacity charges, increases in repairs and maintenance and professional service contracts at the Rowe School. Decreases have been found in fuel costs for heating and vehicles, and recycling and trash removal has been reduced.

Debt service has been decreased by nearly $60,000, which helps support the zero percent tax increase, Paolucci said.

In addition to the staffing changes, the schools have been operating with a freeze on teacher improvement expenses, textbooks, equipment and supplies unless absolutely necessary.

"We believe we have done very well given the economic times and reductions in subsidy," Paolucci said.

The School Committee will meet May 6 for a final budget hearing with the Town Council at the Log Cabin at 7 p.m. Town Meeting will take place June 1 at Harrison Middle School, and the school budget validation referendum will be June 8.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net