New London school committee to consider transportation alternatives

New London - A school board committee that will begin work on the 2013-14 budget Thursday is already facing increases because of transportation costs and teacher and administrator raises.

The school system is expecting a 3.5 percent increase in transportation and an approximately 1 percent salary increase for teachers and administrators, according to Superintendent of Schools Nicholas A. Fischer.

School board members are expected to approve the 1 percent raise for the 2013-14 school year at its Jan. 24 meeting.

School board members, Fischer and Steven Adamowski, the district's special master, met with the City Council in October to inform council members of the proposed contractual increases.

Because of the increase to the transportation contract, the district must look at alternative ways for transportation, Adamowski said.

At a school board workshop last week, Adamowski said the buses are outdated and upgrades to new buses with better fuel economy and safety features have to be considered.

"The labor costs of the board represent about 83 percent of the budget, then you have the others areas that include transportation," Adamowski said Monday. "The cost per bus, per day, in the existing contract will go up 3.5 percent next year, so in order to deal with that, we're going to have to look at transportation to determine the most efficient way with an eye toward reducing wherever possible."

It is unclear how much the much the projected increases to the union and transportation contracts will affect the proposed 2013-14 budget.

"The district really enjoyed a high level of cooperation from both the teachers' and administrators' unions, and they are to be commended for their assistance and cooperation in dealing with the city's financial situation," Adamowski said. "Now that everyone has done that, the next highest increase looming is in the transportation area where a contract is already in place."

Members of the Finance and Audit Committee meet this Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Science and Technology Magnet High School to outline their roles and responsibilities and to start outlining the budget.

j.hanckel@theday.com

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