Groton — The Groton school board on Tuesday approved a $73.6 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year that calls for cuts to staff and programs.
The proposed budget is a $1.02 million, or 1.4 percent, increase over the current $72.6 million budget. The school budget has not had an increase in the past three years.
Among other proposed cuts is the elimination of a dozen staff positions that include teachers and more than 50 paraprofessionals.
The budget was approved by a 6-2 vote and represents some of the recommendations reluctantly offered by Interim Superintendent John Ramos last month.
"School districts are in a very difficult position," Ramos said. "Whenever you reduce a budget, you are forced to forfeit programs and services."
Ramos said Groton, like many school districts across the state, is in a position where resources are dwindling while costs continue to rise.
Earlier this month, Ramos presented a $76.6 million budget that he said represented the cost to maintain the current level of services and programs.
The budget had incorporated a more than $4 million rise in fixed costs, including a $1 million jump in negotiated salaries, nearly $1 million for a projected rise in insurance costs and more than $666,000 in transportation costs associated with redistricting. Some of the increases were due to a loss in federal funding, Ramos said.
At the time, Ramos had also presented a list of proposed cuts gathered from administrators across the district. The school board had used that list during recent budget workshops in an attempt to bring the budget closer to level funding.
Ramos said he is cognizant of the fact that taxpayers are struggling financially but added that "at some point, all communities have to grapple with to what extent they are willing to sacrifice education."
The proposed budget has yet to be considered by the Town Council and Representative Town Meeting.