North Stonington school board discusses superintendent's proposed $13.9 million budget

North Stonington — With votes on the school building project now behind it, the school district’s attention has turned toward next year's budget, with the Board of Education having its first lengthy discussion on the subject Wednesday night.

Superintendent Peter Nero proposed a $13.9 million budget for the 2018-19 school year, representing a 7.97 percent spending increase over the prior year. That hike in large part is designed to make up for last year’s budget freeze, when spending was zeroed out and the district significantly cut its expenditures on things such as textbooks and instructional supplies, he said.

“The reason for the large increase is because we got nothing last year,” Nero said, adding it is very difficult to run a school on a zero budget. “These are things we put back in the budget that we need.”

Still, during the discussion Wednesday, members of the board — and Nero himself — said they expect that the proposed budget will be decreased as the board continues to workshop it.

Last year’s budget went through multiple drafts before the board worked its way down to requesting a budget with a zero percent increase, and traditionally the town has been very reluctant to approve any substantial increase in the education budget. In fact, since 2009, the education budget has increased by more than 1 percent on only two occasions. Last year saw the town initially vote down a budget with a zero percent increase at its first referendum.

However, discussions Wednesday were very preliminary. Board members said they needed more time to fine-tune their questions, and the school administration was asked to provide more precise material regarding certain budget items.

Ultimately, the board adjourned with the intent of meeting for another in-depth discussion on Wednesday, March 7.


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