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Old Lyme — The Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education unanimously approved a $31,741,789 budget for the 2013-14 school year, reflecting a 2.36 percent increase over the current year's budget, at a special meeting and community forum Wednesday.
The regional district's operations and programs budget will increase by 1.6 percent to $27,709,107 next year.
Debt service, which will rise by $295,230 to $4,032,682, accounts for the remaining budget increase. Debt service, a budget component of a regional school district, is the money the district owes from past and current initiatives, including the high school construction project.
Superintendent of Schools Ian Neviaser said Wednesday that the budget does not cut any programs and reflects the district's goals, including maintaining the schools' class sizes, which is of "utmost importance in the communities."
Debt service, staff salaries and maintenance costs comprise the larger funding increases, according to the presentation.
Funding for certified-staff salaries for next year is expected to grow by about $290,600. One reason for the increase is recently negotiated salaries for certified staff, which had no salary increases budgeted for the current fiscal year. In addition, plant operation costs grew by about $146,000, for reasons including heating and cooling the larger high school and rising utility costs.
Savings include employee benefit costs, which decreased by more than $50,000 with the option of a high-deductible health plan.
The presentation also revealed next year's facility and program improvements, such as a "teacher in charge" program at both Mile Creek School and Lyme Consolidated School in which certain trained teachers can serve as principals in emergency situations, new track field bleachers at the high school and certified staff for Scientific Research-Based Interventions, an educational services program.
Board Chairman James Witkins said the board would continue to pay attention to technology needs and future changes in school security. He lauded the school board and staff's commitment to "master the new environment for the administration of education in this community."
Board members voted on the budget following a community forum in which there were no public comments.
The school district will next present the budget to several community groups and prepare budget books. A district budget hearing will be held on April 1. The expected date for a budget referendum vote is May 7.