August 23, 2014

Proposed $17.56 Million Region 4 Education Budget is up by 1.41% as Essex Share of Budget Rises

REGION 4— The Region 4 Board of Education is prepared to approve a proposed $17,568,403 education budget for 2012-2013, with an increasing number of students at the two secondary schools raising the Essex share of the total budget.

The $17,568,403 total budget is reduced by $241,279 in anticipated revenue to a net budget of $17,327,124 to be assessed the taxpayers of Chester, Deep River, and Essex. The net budget, which is up by $217,292, or 1.27 percent from the current net expenditure, is split among the three towns based on the average daily membership of students from each town attending John Winthrop Middle School and Valley Regional High School.

The ADM that was established last October is good news for Chester and Deep River, and a hit for Essex, the largest of the three district towns. Chester, with 264 students at the two schools, seven fewer than the previous year, has a 27.13 percent, or $4,700,849 share of the net budget. The Chester share is down by $21,465 from the town’s current assessment for Region 4.

Deep River, with 275 students, 11 fewer than the previous year, has a 28.26 percent, or $4,896,645 share of the net budget. The Deep River share is down by $85,738 from the town’s current assessment for Region 4.

Essex had 434 students at the two secondary in October, an increase of nine students from the previous year. Essex has a 44.61 percent, or $7,729,630, share of the net budget. The Essex share is up by 4.38 percent from the previous year, requiring an additional $324,495 from town taxpayers.

Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy said the Region 4 Board of Education concluded a series of three budget review workshops on Feb. 7, making some changes and reductions to a spending plan she presented in early January. She said the board may make some final revisions before it approved a budget plan for 2012-2013 at a Feb. 29 meeting. The budget adopted on Feb. 29 will be presented to residents of the three towns at the annual budget hearing on April 2. The annual three-town referendum on the Region 4 budget is set for May 8.

Levy said the proposed Region 4 budget is “bare bones,” with no new positions or program initiatives beyond a new teaching assistant for the two schools and a new part-time custodian position.

The Region 4 school boards, including the local boards that supervise the elementary schools in each town, have also approved a proposed $6,269,930 supervision district budget for 2012-2013. The supervision district budget funds programs and services that are shared by all five Region 4 schools, including school transportation.

The proposed budget represents a 4.1 percent increase over the current appropriation for supervision district services.

The proposed supervision district budget includes $45,419 for a new half-time special education teacher to be shared by district schools, and $42,408 for a new unified telephone system for the district schools and central office. Levy said the purchase of the new system would quickly save money on telephone expenses for each building.

After approval by the Region 4, Chester, Deep River, and Essex school boards, the supervision district budget is split among the three towns based on student ADM, and then included in the separate budget plans for Region 4 and the three elementary schools.

Levy said the plan to implement all-day kindergarten at the three elementary schools would be included in the proposed budgets for each elementary school that are now being prepared by the local school boards. Levy said drops in enrollment for the elementary schools would allow the district to implement all-day kindergarten at minimal additional cost.

After approval by the local school boards, the proposed elementary school budgets are subject to review by the finance boards for each town. The elementary school budgets are included as part of the town budgets that are presented to voters for approval at the annual budget meetings in May.