BOE’s first budget draft shows 2.1% increase
KENT — The Board of Education first draft budget for 2012-13 was presented at a meeting held on March 1.The budget is made up of two parts: Kent Center School (KCS) projected expenditures and Kent’s contribution to Region One School District expenditures. The regional budget is shared by all six towns in the region and is voted on in a referendum in spring. The draft of that budget can be found online at www.region1schools.org. Each town’s contribution is based on the number of students enrolled at Housatonic Valley Regional High School in the prior October. Kent currently has 71 students enrolled at Housatonic Valley Regional High School. Next year, that number is expected to drop to 65; that number will be reflected in the 2013-14 budget. Board Chairman Tracy Horosky said Kent’s contribution to Region One for next year will remain virtually flat at $2,586,598 versus the $2,570,853 budgeted for this year.The total approved education budget for the current year (2011-12) is $6,446,941. The fiscal year ends June 30. The actual year-end total at this point looks like it will be $6,360,417.The total projected 2012-13 budget at this point is $6,582,109.Expenditures for information technology are proposed to increase by 51.92 percent to $39,500. Internet filtering and network security would increase by 22.22 percent to $11,000. Fuel for school buses is estimated to increase by 21.75 percent to $45,000.Heating oil is slotted to go up by 12.71 percent to $81,225 percent.Building maintenance and repairs are projected to increase by 76.32 percent to $40,200.While errors and omissions/liability insurance premiums are expected to rise by 15.25 percent to $11,150, property/flood/automobile insurance is projected to decrease very slightly, by 0.31 percent.The proposed 2012-13 budget reflects a 23.11 percent increase in costs for teaching assistants. Horosky said, “We feel it is important to introduce an enrichment element to our curriculum. We have the tools to identify the kids who would strongly benefit from that, particularly where a subset of their skills would be enhanced.” “It has been a long time since we have been able to direct resources to the higher end of the student spectrum,” she added. “We have a lot of resources directed at students who need help getting to where they should be but we also need to help the higher achieving students.” Horosky said there is a limit to the amount of time a classroom teacher can devote to her students; extra emphasis on both ends of the achievement spectrum requires additional help.Christopher Garrity, chairman of the Board of Finance, was present at the meeting and asked Horosky if a projected $625,000 for the Board of Education in the town’s capital plan was a realistic number. Horosky said she thinks it is and will most likely be somewhat lower.Retired KCS Principal Ed Epstein, who is now a member of the Board of Finance, said, “In analyzing the budget, it is most important for the Board of Finance to look at the bottom line, without getting mired in individual line items.”There will be workshops on the 2012-13 budget in March and a town meeting vote in April.