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School Board Passes Its Real 2012-13 Education Budget

Final Budget Has Everything As This Year, Plus In-School TAG And Freshmen Sports.

For months, the Board of Education and the public waited for the final health care costs to come in, so the town would see what the school district’s budget for next year would look like.

If the numbers came in high, as many feared, programs and possibly even positions would have to be cut. But thanks to some “competitive bidding,” the health insurance bid came in with a 8.48 percent increase, less than the 10 percent increase the board anticipated.

“I’m just really happy,” Board member said.

The proposed 2012-13 school budget keeps everything the same as this year, and adds , a more complete learning through service program and the talented and gifted program as part of the school day (it is currently ). The overall budget is $44.2 million, a 2.99 percent increase from this year’s $42.9 million total, and just below the 3 percent increase

“This is good news,” Superintendent Jerome Belair said.

Waterford's Board of Finance and Representative Town Meeting still have to approve the budget before it becomes official. The delay in health care costs was because the town was out to bid on health insurance, and just decided on the final bid.

The Surprising Health Care Bid

The health care budget will increase 8.48 percent next year, according to district documents. While that is a “significant total,” it is far less than the 30 percent increase the board had to deal with last year, Belair said.

The 8.48 percent increase is surprising considering the district, as of March 1, , with still four months left in the fiscal year. The reason the bids came in low was because the town went out to bid for health insurance, and got a favorable result, Belair said.

“What we learned from this is bidding works,” he said.

The Board of Education, in January, , or a 3.04 percent increase, after they assumed health care costs would rise by 10 percent. Health care costs only rose by 8.48 percent, or $663,633.

That put the budget at $44.14 million, or a 2.85 percent increase from this year’s total. But after some discussion, the Board of Education voted to add a contingency teacher to the budget, a $63,048 increase, bringing the total to $44.199 million.

This previous August, the district had to hire another teacher one week before school began because so many students left the Friendship School to enter Waterford’s kindergarten program. This contingency is in place if something like that happens again, but won’t be spent unless it is needed, Board of Education Chairwoman Kathleen McCarty said.

Other Concerns

Still, there are questions unanswered. The board, along with the town, has still not decided how to pay off this year's $1.76 million deficit in health care, with four months left in this fiscal year for that deficit to possibly increase, First Selectman Dan Steward said after the meeting.

Additionally, the municipal budget factored in no increase for health insurance. Any increase in health insurance will increase the budget, and thereby the tax burden for next year.

Paul Petrone March 23, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Haha o boy, well good morning to you too. The numbers are right I just double-checked them. I do round the million dollar figures because if I put the full eight-digit number, it gets very clunky (as opposed to a three-digit number). So if your doing your math from the rounded numbers it isn't going to come out perfect. If you want the full numbers, this year's budget is $42,914,414, and the proposed total for next year is $44,199,363. That equals a 2.99421... percent increase.
BJ March 23, 2012 at 12:08 PM
The "math" not withstanding, the real point is that the town is COMPLETELY UNREALISTIC. The expenses for the taxpayers of Waterford keep going up; gas prices go up, taxes go up, healthcare costs go up, food costs go up, EVERYTHING is getting more expensive! Yet incomes remain the same, or go down (unless you work for the town/state). The taxpayers just suck it up and move on, but the town raises wages and benefits (in the aggregate) by simply raising taxes.
R Lee Balderdash March 23, 2012 at 02:32 PM
A 3% increase is essentially a 9% increase and an abysmal failure. The elected oligarchs should be aiming for a 6% decrease to go along with the crappy economies they are creating all across this once great land. Taking more money out of our pockets in these times is abusive.
Keith Kriet March 23, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Paul, sorry if I came across snippy, because I value the work you do, and I enjoy learning about what's going on in Waterford. Keep up the good work. For all practical purposes, 2.99421 equals 3. In fact, in a $42 million budget, the difference between the two numbers is only $2,485. Rounding the budget numbers in your report made perfect sense. It was simple and easy to understand. Likewise, it would have been simpler to report a 3% increase, because essentially, that is what the Board of Ed delivered. I hate to put the math aside, because I think its important, but in all the years I spent serving on a Waterford Town board, I don't ever recall evidence of an oligarchy. Politics yes, but a conspiracy of selfishness no. It's not hard to become involved with decision making in this town. It does require a commitment of time and effort, however, and certainly more effort than that involved in firing off missiles to the Patch. Personally, I wish more fiscally conservative people made the effort to become involved in the Town, but venting anger doesn't accomplish much unless its directed towards affecting constructive change. There's always the Waterford Town Beach if anyone wants to pound sand.
Property Owner March 23, 2012 at 11:33 PM
110% agree

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