School board approves $93.5-million budget request

There won't be any change to school start times.

That was the outcome of Monday night's meeting, where the board voted unanimously to approve Superintendent Dr. Karen Baldwin's $93.5-million budget request for the 2017-18 school year.

The approved budget will continue with Baldwin's previous proposal to cut seven positions in order to meet the state-imposed 2.5% municipal spending cap.

In total, the Board of Finance will review a budget of of $93,517,544 — up $3,143,000 from the current year’s more than $90,374,000 budget — this spring before voters get to make a final approve in May.

The budget proposal manages to stay within the state-mandated 2.5% cap on spending increases — despite rising 3.48% — because special education spending is excluded from the cap calculation. The proposed budget allocates nearly $14,451,000 for special education, a $1,213,000 or 9.22% increase from this year.

“In total one if five of our students has some kind of Individualized Education Plan,” Baldwin said at the board's meeting Saturday.

An individual education plan or  “IEP” is given to a student with some kind of special need, whether intellectual, physical or emotional.

In an effort to keep within the 2.5% cap, Baldwin’s budget proposes eliminating what adds up to 7.45 full time positions: one is an administrator, a K-12 “STEM” supervisor in science, technology, engineering and math; 1.55 are RHS teaching positions; 3 middle school teachers would be eliminated by changing East Ridge’s sixth grade from three to two “teams”; one is a K-5 technology integrator; a 0.80 position is for middle school special education department chairmen; and a 0.10 position for a pre-school coordinator.