As I write this article, we approach the end of a long budget process. On Tuesday, April 30, voters will be asked to affirm a budget that we believe provides the best we can for each student in Plainville while also minimizing, as much as possible, any mill rate increase.
It is a true balancing act, and we are mindful of how we best utilize each dollar.
Our budget is a plan, so we began in September not even yet thinking about the numbers. Instead, school administrators were asked, “If I was starting from scratch, what would I build in and what I would leave out?” We recognized that there are many ways to think about and achieve student success.
By the last week of October, we had formed priorities for district areas of investment as well as areas of reallocation. Areas of investment included technology, facilities, security, additional special education and social studies teachers at Plainville High School, and a literacy tutor at Wheeler Elementary School. These enhancements are made possible through the reallocation of positions throughout the district.
Then, from November to April, our budgeting is an iterative exercise. Costs are questioned and reduced first by administration, then by the superintendent, then by the Board of Education, and finally by the Town Council. As it stands, before adding in a health insurance increase, the budget increase is $719,756 from the 2018-19 budget of $37,322,912, or a 1.93 percent increase. This is well below contractual increases, made possible through offsetting in other areas wherever we could.
The health insurance increase adds an additional $286,437 for a total Board of Education increase of 2.70 percent. While the process can be trying, we believe this result funds the most critical needs and continues to provide the high quality of education to which residents have come to expect within our very tight fiscal constraints.
The writer is superintendent of Plainville schools.