May 20, 2019

Region 4 Board of Education Approves a Revised $17.5 Million Budget for 2012-2013

REGION 4— The Region 4 Board of Education approved a revised $17.5 million budget for 2012-2013 Monday after a sparsely attended public hearing where no one objected to the spending plan.

The $17,506,213 budget was approved on a unanimous vote. The budget, which funds the operations of Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School, represents a $181,280, or 1.05 percent ,increase over current funding. The budget is reduced by anticipated revenue to a $17,264,934 net budget that is assessed the taxpayers of Chester, Deep River and Essex based on the number of students from each town attending the two secondary schools.

Board Chairwoman Linda Hall of Deep River announced before the public hearing that school administrators had found another $62,190 in reductions from the $17,568,403 budget that had been approved by the board on March 7. Hall said the savings come from a reduction of $119,000 in debt service expenses resulting from a refinancing of district bonds, and $88,000 from a reduction in the total cost of health benefits for district staff.

The new-found savings result in reductions in each town’s share of the net budget, but Essex still faces a steep increase in its share of the Region 4 budget because of a higher number of students from Essex at the two schools when the average daily membership from each town was tallied last October. Essex, with 434 students, now has a $7,701,887, or 44.61 percent, share of the budget. The Essex assessment is up by $296,752, or four percent, from the current amount.

Chester and Deep River, with fewer students, have a lower share of the budget. The Chester assessment is 44,683,977, down by $38,337 from the current amount. The Deep River assessment is $4,879,070, down by $103,313 from the current amount.

The budget includes three new part-time positions, or increased hours, along with an increase in the annual stipend for the athletic director shared by the two schools. There are increased hours for a social worker and a part-time custodian at the middle school, along with $33,000 for a part-time teacher assistant to run in-school suspensions at the two schools. Providing and staffing an in-school suspension option for students with discipline problems is now required by state law. The total cost of the staffing upgrades is $87,420.

Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy told the eight residents at the public hearing, including Chester First Selectman Edmund Meehan, the proposed budget is a “responsible and transparent” spending plan that meets the needs of the school district while taking in to consideration the economic climate in the state. The proposed $17.5 million Region 4 budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in an eight-hour 12-noon to 8 p.m. referendum on Tuesday May 8.

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