Falmouth school budget proposal asks more of taxpayers

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FALMOUTH — The proposed school budget represents a 3.27 percent increase in spending and equates to an 80-cent increase in the tax rate.

Superintendent Geoff Bruno presented his fiscal year 2018 budget totaling just over $36 million to the School Board in a March 17 workshop.

Facing a possible decline of a little more than $930,000 in state aid to education, Bruno said his goal for the new school spending package was to “maintain the current level of services (and) not (to negatively) impact programs,” while not adding any new spending.

The current school budget is $34.9 million, and Bruno’s proposal would add about $1.1 million.

That means for a home valued at $300,000, the tax impact would be $240 for the new fiscal year if the budget is passed without changes.

The potential decline in funding for education from the state “requires the Falmouth taxpayer to shoulder more of the burden to fund schools,” Bruno said, while also noting that the tax rate expected for local communities to support their schools is now “significantly higher” than it was even just a few years ago.

Bruno said he was initially presented with additional requests of $540,000 by the school district’s leadership, but with the projected loss in state aid, he said nearly all new spending measures are now off the table.

Bruno said among the challenges he faced in creating the new budget were “responding to state mandates and new education statutes; implementing proficiency-based diplomas and new graduation standards; implementing a new teacher evaluation model; and adapting to new computer-based student testing, along with new school accountability measures.”

Even without any significant new spending, he said, the schools will be able to continue to “provide the best possible educational experience for every child.”

 

The next steps in the process include a joint workshop with the Town Council at 4:30 p.m. Monday, March 27, at Falmouth Elementary School, and a special School Board meeting April 3 to approve the school budget.

The Town Council will have the final say in the amount that will go to a town-wide referendum June 13, and it’s expected to approve the municipal and school budgets for the new fiscal year at an April 24 meeting.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

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