Board of education approves Lyme-Old Lyme school budget

Old Lyme - The Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education on Wednesday unanimously voted to adopt a $31,963,401 budget that Superintendent Ian Neviaser presented at a public forum earlier in the evening.

The budget is a 0.7 percent increase over the current budget.

The operations and programs portion of the proposed budget stands at $28,017,300, or a 1.1 percent increase. Debt service is $3,946,101, reflecting a 2.15 decrease from this year.

Neviaser said at the public forum that the proposed budget will continue all programs for students and maintain small class sizes in the district.

Areas of the budget that would decrease next year are employee benefits and special education costs. Benefits costs would fall by 5.44 percent, due to both good rates and a high percentage of staff switching over to a high-deductible health plan that is less costly to the district, said Neviaser. Special education costs are also expected to decline by 8.37 percent.

Areas of increase include instructional programming costs, which would rise 14.5 percent, non-certified salaries, which would increase by 5.46 percent, and certified salaries, which would increase just slightly, by 0.09 percent.

The district has an ongoing redistricting plan and declining enrollment. Next year's projections are for 33 to 35 fewer students, according to the presentation.

The district plans to eliminate two elementary school teacher positions next year. An additional high school math teacher position would be added to both maintain small class sizes and ensure that each school student can opt to take four years of math, he said.

The budget includes about $140,000 to renovate Center School to hold pre-kindergarten there next year, a component of Lyme-Old Lyme's redistricting plan.

Other facilities projects include upgrading Lyme Consolidated's playground equipment, installing additional security cameras at the elementary and middle schools, and updating lighting and motor equipment in the middle and elementary schools to become more energy-efficient, according to the presentation.

A New England Association of Schools and Colleges re-accreditation process, which comes up once every 10 years, will result in about $30,000 in various costs, Neviaser said.

The budget would also boost funding for technology in the district, with items such as additional laptop carts.

"That's something we feel is vitally important in today's age," said Neviaser about technology needs. "We want each and every one of our students to be prepared to live in a world that is technologically driven."

A district budget hearing is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on April 7 in the high school auditorium. The annual budget meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on May 5 at the high school auditorium, while May 6 is the anticipated date of the budget referendum.

k.drelich@theday.com

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