BOE approves proposed budget

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Editor’s note—In the print edition, this story should have read that the Plainville Board of Education approved a 2.61% increase, making the approved 2020-21 budget $39,277,677. Changes have been made below.

The Plainville Board of Education unanimously approved a proposed 2020-21 budget of $39,277,677, which represents 2.61% over the current budget.

The approval came at its meeting Monday, Feb. 10,

The 2019-20 budget is $38,229,105.

In January, the BOE hosted several public workshops in which the proposed budget was first introduced. Superintendent of Schools Steven LePage explained the biggest driver for this year’s increase was a $972,354 — or 2.54% — contractual increase in staffing costs.

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The biggest portions of this increase, he explained, are attributed to health insurance (5% increase over last year), paraprofessionals and tutors (3.69% increase over last year), and teachers salaries (2.62% increase over last year). Staffing accounts for 85% of the overall budget.

“Our employees can’t go out on strike but on the other side of that, they have a right to fair and reasonable increases that are aligned with what’s happening around in the state,” said LePage, explaining the process of collective bargaining.

During last week’s meeting, BOE member Foster White spoke in favor of the budget, saying that to further reduce the budget would mean a reduction in staffing. That, he said, “would have very negative impacts either on security or learning capabilities and teaching to the students.”

Aside from staff costs, the next highest contributing factor to the budget rise was the transportation, tuition, and other services line. This item saw an increase of 4.33%. The line item includes daily transportation of students, transportation for field trips and athletics, a district owned van, special education students in town and throughout the state, tuition for students in schools outside of the district, travel costs associated with staffing including faculty who work throughout multiple schools when traveling for staffing related events, and more.

The town charter says the town manager must present the general government budget to the town council no later than Monday, March 9.

The next regularly scheduled meetings of the town council will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 18, Monday, March 2, and Monday, March 16 at 7 p.m. in the Plainville Municipal Building. The next scheduled meeting of the BOE is slated for Monday, March 9, at 1 p.m. in the Plainville High School cafeteria.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at News@PlainvilleObserver.com.