East Lyme school budget seen increasing 3.3 percent

East Lyme - The 2013-14 school budget may increase by 3.3 percent, according to a preliminary budget presentation to the Board of Education Monday.

The proposed budget of $42,591,731 would allow the district to implement programs for a full-day kindergarten, a state-mandated evaluation system, potential security measures and other programs that support the district's long-range plan, according to Superintendent of Schools James Lombardo. But while the district proposes new additions, it will also cut costs in areas from utilities to transportation.

The full-day kindergarten program would cost about $426,000. Expenses to cover the new teacher and principal evaluation system, including a part-time clerical position and software systems, would cost about $133,000, the presentation stated.

Salaries would also increase slightly, including an average raise of 1.5 percent for administrators and an average raise of 2.5 percent for teachers and staff.

The budget proposal further includes $50,000 for potential security measures that the schools need to implement, explained Lombardo. Necessary maintenance projects and rising insurance costs represent other increases.

But the schools would save in other areas. Utility bills will be about $120,000 less, because the district sought bids from competing companies. Changes in special education programs represent a $94,000 decrease. New transportation negotiations also cut costs, according to the presentation.

The district is also facing declining student enrollment. The district anticipates 112 fewer students in the 2013-14 year, said Lombardo, but will continue to monitor enrollment. The district proposes eliminating one net full-time teaching position because of declining student enrollment.

The Board of Education will continue to discuss the budget and will hold a public hearing on Jan. 28. The final date for the board to adopt the budget is Feb. 25.

k.drelich@theday.com

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