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Minimal increase in Kent education spending plan

KENT —The Board of Education presented its budget to the Board of Finance at a special meeting on Wednesday, March 24, held via Zoom.

The budget for Kent Center School totals $4,686,813, an increase of $13,135 proposed for the coming year, or 0.28%. 

Presenting an overview of the proposed budget, Board of Education Chair Martin Lindenmayer noted that the school has remained open throughout the school year. 

Enrollment increased from 193 students to 203 who attended school in person. Students who are being schooled at home are not counted in that total, Lindenmayer said.

School faculty, staff, administrators and students earned high praise from the finance board for having kept the school open during COVID-19, without significant incident, as protocols were adhered to. 

The smoothness of the budget preparation process drew similar praise.

The Board of Finance members agreed that there would be no need for a budget review workshop to consider both the town and the education budgets. The budgets will be discussed at the next regular meeting of the Board of Finance, scheduled for Wednesday, April 21.

Finance board members briefly discussed the selectmen’s town budget decision to equalize amounts apportioned to the volunteer fire department and the Kent library ($100,000 each). 

A detailed report had been received from Library Director Sarah Marshall presenting persuasive data on library usage and programs throughout the past pandemic year. 

Finance board members Rufus de Rham and Ed Epstein favored restoring the originally requested amounts to both organizations.

Town Treasurer Barbara Herbst recommended that the issue be referred back to the selectmen for discussion at their next meeting.

Earlier in the meeting, Region One Business Manager Sam Herrick presented an overview of the Region One budget, reporting that the town’s obligation to the total budget is projected to drop by $105,000. 

Kent contributes 42 students to the total of 305 students at the high school, or 13.77% of the student body. Kent’s share will therefore drop from 15.33% to 14.48% in the coming year.

“Regardless of enrollment, we need to maintain the building: steps, roofing, gutters,” Herrick said, explaining the increase in the maintenance allocation. “A good roof is a good building.”

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