Keeping programs in tact in District 13 was the priority for board members and administrators entering budget season. They say the proposed $44.6 million spending plan that will be put forward to voters in May accomplishes just that.
On March 19, the Board of Education unanimously adopted the 2013-14 budget, which increases spending by 3.34 percent next year. The tax levy would rise by 3.89 percent to $33.2 million. The district will not exceed the levy limit under the tax cap, meaning only a simple majority is going to be needed to pass the budget.
“Our proposed budget will allow us to continue to provide a high quality education for our students,” said Superintendent Dr. Adrienne Robb-Fund. “It’s a solid budget.”
Board of Education President Jeanne Greco Jacobs said she is pleased that the budget keeps both students and taxpayers in mind. “I think we’re very fortunate that we’re preserving our programs and we didn’t have to make any deep cuts that would affect the level of education that we have come to pride ourselves in,” she said.
Jacobs said that while the district’s administrators should be credited with developing solid budgets year after year, she is concerned about the future because of the limits of the tax cap. She said at some point school officials could run out of ways to cuts costs without cutting programs.
The district is expected to get about $9 million in state aid next year. That figure could increase when the state budget is passed. Meredith Brosnan, the assistant superintendent for business, said the board would have to decide how to use any additional revenue.
Vincent Toma, a resident of the district, expressed his concern about the budget’s ability to pass, but not because of anything that has happened in District 13. He noted cuts in the high school district, specifically a change to transportation for private school students, and said many parents are angry and could be looking to vote down that budget in retaliation. Because both proposals are voted on at the same time, he said he is concerned about that anger spilling over to the elementary budget.
Board member Joan Gartner agreed, and said there is some confusion between the different districts. “You’re not sending us a message when you vote down the elementary budget when you don’t like what’s going on at the high school level,” she said.
Jacobs, who also sits on the high school board, said it will take some extra effort in District 13 to inform the public about the differences between the two budgets. She said transportation for public and private school students will remain the same for next year at the elementary level. “We have to make it very clear that we’re distinct from the high schools,” she said.