East Lyme superintendent suggests $350,000 in budget reductions

East Lyme — Superintendent James Lombardo said at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting that he may be able to reduce the 2012-13 school budget by the Board of Finance's recommended $350,000 by reducing, among other things, per-pupil expenditures.

A $100,000 reduction in per-pupil spending — on such things as library books, textbooks and other supplies — would supply a third of the amount the finance board has asked the school board to cut from its proposal.

The school budget now stands at $41,214,975, a 1.78 percent increase over the current year's budget.

Lombardo said the finance board has found $90,800 in additional savings in health insurance that it did not have when it forwarded a $62.4 million town budget — with a school budget that showed a 2 percent increase — to a public hearing Monday.

The school district also may be able to find roughly $200,000 in health and dental insurance savings and special education tuition costs, Lombardo said. Some students who have been going out of district for special education are expected to return to the district next year, he said.

The final $50,000 reduction could be achieved by "nickel-and-diming" expenses in areas such as advertising and computer equipment, Lombardo said.

"I think we can accomplish this with relatively little impact on staffing and no reduction in programs," Lombardo said.

No action was taken on the suggested areas of reduction, as Lombardo said the school district has time to make final adjustments based on any last minute changes.

But board member Chris Sandford took issue with the proposed reductions in per-pupil spending and asked the board to seriously consider consolidating the elementary schools. He said he was opposed to making budget cuts to other areas just because of "a sacred cow" in the budget.

A district committee is studying the possibility of eventually closing Niantic Center School.


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