Groton gives unanimous OK to $75.1 million school budget plan

Groton — The Town Council on Thursday unanimously approved the school board's $75.1 million recommended education budget, which would maintain class size and school programs across the district.

The spending plan, an increase of 1.4 percent over the current year, would cut staff but not result in layoffs. Two curriculum administrators in the central office would be transferred to other lower-paying administrative jobs such as principals. The school district also offered an early incentive retirement and 19 teachers took it, Superintendent Michael Graner said. The budget also covers a potential $1.7 million shortfall in the employee health insurance account.

"The good news is, it's a level service budget. We're not cutting anything," Graner told the council. "The bad news is, it's a level service budget. We're not adding."

Councilors questioned Graner and school board members about the International Baccalaureate program at Robert E. Fitch High School, which offers rigorous academics but is underenrolled and graduates few students.

"Is it time to retire this program, or what are we going to do?" Councilor Bob Frink asked.

Board Chairwoman Rita Volkmann said the board would discuss the program at length. Graner said the district could turn it into a magnet program to attract students from other towns.

The council on Thursday also approved capital projects for $445,000 to remove asbestos at Charles Barnum Elementary School, $65,000 to install energy efficient lights and $200,000 to improve school security.

The budget goes next to the Representative Town Meeting for review.

d.straszheim@theday.com

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