Schools seeks 9 percent boost
Rising health care costs, increasing fuel prices and a need to hire more teachers to prevent learning and behavioral problems are some of the reasons why the increase is needed, he said at a Tuesday night presentation.
Pitkoff presented a budget of $58,055,560 budget, up roughly $4.9 million, or 9.29 percent, from this year's budget.
This year's budget increased 8.37 percent from the prior year.
Next year's proposed budget includes nearly $679,000 in new positions within the district, including part-time early intervention teachers at the elementary schools, an in-school suspension teacher at the high school for two days a week and an extra guidance counselor at Reed Intermediate.
Pitkoff said the early intervention teachers will help at the kindergarten level, giving some students an extra hour of help.
"We will help them improve their skills, get them on track," improving the chance they won't have learning difficulties later, Pitkoff said. The early intervention teachers would cost about $76,000.
The high-school, in-school suspension program would be new if approved by the town and public.
The program would be for less serious offenses like cutting class, Pitkoff said.
"You cut classes and you don't come to school, what's the punishment?" Pitkoff said. "You are suspended and you don't have to come to school."
This plan would allow teachers to know where students are - sitting in a room doing homework instead of out of school.
One of the larger cost increases the district expects is in energy prices. Pitkoff proposed more than $1.75 million for fuel costs, a jump of more than $292,000, or nearly 20 percent, from this year's budget. That includes a projected 9 cent-per-gallon increase for diesel fuel used for the busing system.
Pitkoff proposed a 19.5 percent increase in employee benefits, increasing them nearly $1.5 million to about $9.1 million. One big factor is an expected 22 percent increase in medical, prescription and dental program costs. Pitkoff said most school employees are paying a higher percentage of premiums to reduce the impact.
Overall, staff salaries makes up the largest portion of the budget, at 63 percent or $36.3 million. That's a 7 percent, or $2.4 million, increase from last year.
Pitkoff said he cut more than $1.7 million in teacher and administrator requests from the budget.
"I think this is a fair and responsible budget and the town should support this budget," he said.
The school board will hold a public participation hour on the proposed budget at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Reed Intermediate School . The regular board meeting will follow at 7:30 p.m.
The board will vote to adopt a budget for the 2005-06 school year on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Room 122 at Reed.
Contact Robert Gold
or at (203) 426-3711.