Board of Finance approves proposed BOE budget

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Board of Finance approves proposed BOE budget

Eliza Llewellyn, Web Managing Editor

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Thursday night’s Board of Finance meeting sparked debate and discussion, but ultimately resulted in the approval of the BOE’s proposed budget in a 4-3 vote.

The budget proposal, a 4.82 percent increase over last year’s, reflected alterations made in a closed-session BOE meeting earlier that night. At this meeting, the BOE reduced its original proposal by $1.1 million. The change reflected reductions in projected healthcare costs following an audit of the health insurance accounts, a response to the health insurance shortfall which drew the accounts into a deficit.

The significant and last-minute change in projections concerned some BOF members. Vice-Chair Brian Stern suggested delaying voting on the health insurance portion of the budget.

“What is the urgency of making a vote when just minutes ago, we received information that you discussed just minutes ago?” Stern said. However, other BOF members as well as Superintendent Elliott Landon said that health coverage was too significant in the budget to be neglected.

Other features of the BOE budget include expanding the STEM program and restoring parity to the middle and elementary school start times.

BOF member Tom Lasersohn made a motion to cut the budget proposal by $200,000. “I’m willing to roll my sleeves up to find that money without affecting programs,” Lasersohn said. However, the motion was ultimately struck down 2-5.

BOF member Mike Rea was in favor of maintaining the budget, but felt that upcoming years would call for smaller increases. Other BOF members agreed, noting that the school budget has increased at double the rate of inflation.

Parents were split on the issue. PTA Council Co-President Sheila Flynn felt that the BOE’s original proposal was too lean. However, other parents felt that recent BOE budgets put undue strain on the school system for upcoming years, as the town may need to make up for increases that outrun inflation.

The close final vote reflected the split in opinions. After tonight’s meeting, the $109,202,984 proposal will move on to the RTM for discussion.

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