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The Board of Education will use savings in this year’s budget to add two full-time positions back into the next fiscal year’s spending plan which begins July 1.
A literacy tutor at Wheeler Elementary School will move from part-time to full-time and a Plainville High School behavioral technician, another full-time position, will be restored.
At the Board of Education’s May 28 meeting, board member Foster White said the two positions are critical to the district. “I think we have to prioritize those things,” he said.
The positions were initially part of a $100,000 cut to the board’s budget, which was in line with the April 30 budget referendum vote. The municipal budget was approved, but the school budget failed.
The revised budget was passed 863-369 during a second vote, on May 14.
Money freed up by prepaying some of next year’s contracts – using money in this year’s budget – made it possible for the two positions to be funded.
The district is prepaying the cost of some diesel and legal fees and for the designing of a new entrance at Plainville High School to improve security – which will result in savings in the amount of around $130,000. Around half that will cover the reinstatement of the two full-time positions, with the rest hedging against the possibility that contract negotiations for janitors and office professionals will yield higher-than-expected salaries.
The remaining cuts the Board of Education made to reduce its budget to $38.2 million include leaving some positions unfilled temporarily, holding off on upgrading some textbooks, reducing a teaching position for the hearing impaired from full-time to part-time and switching the spring sports program at the Middle School of Plainville to intramural.
The spring sports programming was selected with the hope that the district can save money or find alternative funding in time to bump it back up to the interscholastic level, which would cost around $12,000.
“It gives us time anyway to account for the shortfall,” Assistant Superintendent of Schools Stephen LePage said, raising the possibility of holding a fundraiser if savings can’t be found.
Furthermore, if contract negotiations remain in line with expectations, the remaining money from prepaying contracts also could go towards the MSP sports program.
Additionally, the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee could make changes to the formula used to distribute state education cost sharing funds, resulting in some additional revenue.
Much of the $30,000 savings from leaving positions open comes from delaying filling LePage’s position as assistant superintendent. He’s been promoted to replace the current superintendent, Maureen Brummett, who will leave her post at the end of this academic year.
LePage said the assistant superintendent position could remain unfilled until September.
Board member Becky Tyrrell said she had concerns that leaving positions open into the next school year could result in qualified candidates being hired by other districts.