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CLINTON - After being voted down by just 12 votes at last month's referendum, the Board of Education (BOE) budget experienced a dramatic reversal of fortune in its second go-round. Following a cut of $110,000, the $32,321,098 won overwhelming voter approval on June 4, passing 1,559 to 1,226.
"I am extremely pleased that the budget passed so amicably this time," said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jack Cross. "I can't begin to express my appreciation for everyone who worked so hard behind the scenes to rally support for this budget. It is gratifying to have this margin of support for this budget. I am very pleased, and now we can refocus our energy and get back to work on the vision of the Clinton School system, which is all about the kids."
First Selectman Willie Fritz said, "We are very glad the budget passed and now we can move forward."
Fritz was disappointed that the BOE budget didn't pass the first time around when the town side of the budget passed narrowly with 1,340 votes in favor and 1,308 opposed.
Originally the entire town and BOE combined budget called for a total of 3.5 percent increase, however, with the $110,000 reduction on the BOE side, the total combined budget is now $48.38 million, an overall 3.3 percent increase.
Immediately following the referendum vote count, the Board of Finance met to officially set the town's mill rate for the fiscal year of 2014-2015 at 26.27, and the tax collection rate at 98.8 percent. The current mill rate is 25.43; the new budget calls for a mill increase of .84 mills.
Cross explained that the $110,000 reduction in the BOE budget will hopefully be absorbed with the announcement of four seasoned teachers retiring this year. These teachers will be replaced with teachers at lower salaries.
"Some of the retiring teachers are in the areas of technology and mathematics, so I am not sure how much of a savings we will realize with the retirements, but we will be able to work with the reductions and keep the students' best interest at the forefront as always," said Cross.