At last week's Board of Finance meeting the Board of Education presented their $54.5 million 2013-2014 Budget to the Board of Finance. The budget represents a 2.98% increase over last year's budget. According to Superintendent Paul Freeman the budget focuses on three key areas:
- Growing the local capacity to educate our students here at home by providing a quality alternative to special education
- The need to meet the requirements of teachers and principles evaluation
- Implementation of common core state standards and meeting these standards
"This is a value document that is built on our mission," said Superintendent Paul Freeman. "It moves it boldly and successfully forward, and it makes important investments in vital areas. We knew we had to move towards common core standards and special ed, and not by simply adding services, but by using existing staffing and resources as well."
According to BOE representatives at the BOF meeting, the budget went through a rigorous process, initially coming in at a 3.4% increase. Five new positions will be added in the budget, and with a reduction of 3.3 positions, the result will net an increase of 1.7 positions.
Representatives clarified that they will be reducing a world language teacher as well as a computer teacher. Positions added include two literacy coaches, a math teacher, a transition coordinator for special education and a technology specialist.
"This is not a treading water budget, but it is one that moves us forward," continued Freeman. "The budget increases are very close to the rate of inflation, and this is thanks to reasonable contracts with staff, changes in our health benefits structure, and several other factors."
"One of the most vexing issues we've had is having out placing special education students," Freeman says. "The Guilford Lakes Pilot Program for Autism has been very well accepted by parents, and services like this will help us avoid out placements and still provide the utmost services to these students. These are the types of programs we want to continue to invest in and draw from."
"We also want to provide more training in the technology area," concluded Freeman. "We have great hardware and software in our schools, and we want all of our staff to be able to use this technology, which has provoked our need for the technology specialist."
The much debated issue of All Day Kindergarten was addressed at the meeting, and while the budget does not inlclude a plan to begin the program this coming year, the budget does allow for a committee to investigate and research the benefits of such a program.
The BOE budget will now go under review by the Board of Finance. The BOF Public Hearing is scheduled for March 5, 7:30 p.m. at the Community Center.