On Wednesday night, the Board of Education approved a budget with a 3.78 percent increase.
The new budget is for $37,053,533, or a $1,351,305 increase over the current budget.
Originally, Superintendent of Schools William Guzman proposed a budget with a 4.95 percent increase, and he hoped the board would approve this number.
This increase came down to 4.09 percent with a reduction in insurance costs. On Wednesday, the board took a vote at that number and it was rejected with two voting for it and five voting against it. Two members were not in attendance.
After the vote, the members discussed and debated where to bring the number to and eventually brought it to 3.78 percent. That vote went 4-3 in favor of it.
The board did not decide where the cuts would be made, giving Guzman the flexibility to decide where they would come from.
Guzman said that during the process, he was afraid that the board was going to reduce the number further. He added that in October, the board adopted a strategic plan on what it wanted to concentrate on with this budget.
“This budget doesn’t even address half that stuff,” he said. “It is what it is here.”
The discussion of priorities was a topic for debate amongst the board members and after the meeting, Guzman expressed his thoughts.
“Our priorities?,” he said. “I’d give them a 15 percent budget if we’re talking about priorities. They did their due diligence, that’s all I can ask them to do.”
Guzman will now let Town Manager Steven Werbner know what the board came up with and the process will continue from there.
“We’ll see what the town manager is going to do,” he said. “I don’t know what they’re going to come in at. I’ve gotta see what the town council is going to do. Hopefully people will get upset with this number.”
He added that he figures that the Board of Education number will be reduced and that more positions will probably be eliminated.
On Thursday, Werbner will hold a community conversation on the budget and the budget process. This discussion will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Fire Training Center. All are encouraged to attend. For more information, contact the Town Manager’s Office at 860-871-3600.