Lyme-Old Lyme school board approves budget with 1.97 percent increase

Old Lyme — The Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a 2018-19 budget of $34,298,528, a 1.97 percent increase over the current education budget.

Health insurance is the major reason for the increase, with employee benefits representing $558,131 of the overall $664,257 increase, according to Lyme-Old Lyme Superintendent Ian Neviaser.

The budget calls for a reduction of two certified staff members, one classroom teacher and one special education teacher, due to declining enrollment at the elementary level, Neviaser said in a phone interview Thursday. The school district will make the staff reductions by not filling positions, after planned retirements.

Neviaser said it's a "bare bones budget" that proposes no new programs. The operations budget continues to adhere to class size guidelines, continues the current academic and extracurricular activities, sufficiently funds the maintenance and repair of buildings, and supports the scheduled replacement of technology and equipment, according to a PowerPoint presentation from a public forum held prior to the board's vote on Wednesday.

The spending plan calls for support and training for Next Generation Science Standards, a new benchmark for science education, and also provides for upgrades to the network infrastructure.

The district has reduced its capital budget for 2018-19. For capital projects, the district is continuing to look at the possibility of installing an artificial turf field, with the field behind the high school being the most likely location for it, Neviaser said. The budget proposes $60,000 for engineers and architects to design a turf field proposal and work towards approvals.

The capital budget also includes $30,000 to replace the gymnasium floor at Center School and $140,000 for fuel oil tank replacement at the Mile Creek School, according to the presentation.

The district is also planning projects paid for by other funding sources, rather than the operating budget, he said. The district's undesignated fund will cover the partial roof replacement at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School, while the district is negotiating a power purchase agreement with Greenskies Renewable Energy in which the company would install solar panels on the district's five buildings.

A district budget hearing is scheduled for April 2, and a district budget meeting is slated for May 7, both at 6:30 p.m. in the Board of Education conference room at Center School.

May 8 is the anticipated date for a referendum on the education budget from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Lyme Town Hall and the Cross Lane Firehouse in Old Lyme.

k.drelich@theday.com 

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