Groton school budget hearing to be held Tuesday

Groton — The Board of Education will hold a public hearing Tuesday evening on the superintendent's $78,710,628 proposed budget for 2020-21.

The proposed spending plan represents a $1,272,538, or 1.6%, increase.

The highlights of the budget include that it maintains class size, keeps curricular and extracurricular programs, expands remedial programs, upgrades technology and infrastructure, and continues before- and after-school child care programs, according to the proposal.

Superintendent Michael Graner said the line item for teachers' salaries in next year's budget is essentially flat — about a 0.04% increase over the current year's adopted budget — due to the consolidation of the two middle schools into one next year. He said that represents a cost avoidance of hundreds of thousands of dollars, as that item typically can increase between about 3% and 3.5% each year due to contractual agreements.

Graner said the consolidation is anticipated to reduce about 12 middle school teaching positions next year. Because of an early retirement program, he said he is confident those reductions can be achieved through attrition.

Graner said the board offered the early retirement incentive two months ago, and 15 teachers across the district took advantage of the program and announced plans to retire in June. He said that between retirements at the middle school level and transfers to another school in the district next year, the number of teacher layoffs would be negligible or zero.

"I'm planning to eliminate any layoffs," he said.

The hearing will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the main room of the Groton Senior Center. The school board then will hold a budget work session at 7 p.m. in Room A of the Senior Center, according to the meeting agendas.

"I'm looking forward to presenting it to the board and sharing it with the public," Graner said of his budget proposal.

During the hearing with the budget overview presentation, the board always likes to hear comments from the public, he said. "The board values the input that we get from a public hearing," he said.

Following Tuesday's hearing, the board will continue working on the budget and will hold weekly budget workshops until Feb. 24, Graner said. By charter, the board has to submit its budget to the town manager by the end of February.

k.drelich@theday.com

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