Finance board cuts $400K from school budget

Although the fiscal year 2017 mill rate has yet to be set, the Board of Finance did cut $400,000 from the Board of Education's budget and $213,000 from the Board of Selectmen's budget during its first mill rate meeting on Wednesday, April 6.

The school budget cut passed by a 5-1 vote. Finance board member Peter Balderston was the only opposing member, stating that $400,000 is "not enough" as the town has been "very generous" with school district funding over the years.

Click here to read a statement Balderston presented at the meeting regarding the school budget.

Finance board member Walter Kress said he believes cutting classroom teachers would be "the most damaging" decision the Board of Education could make and that he sees potential savings at the administrative level rather than in the classroom.

Board of Education Chair Bruce Likly told the finance board that although he does not want cuts, the Board of Education "will do everything in its power to make sure that $400,000 happens far, far away from the classroom.”

The cuts leave the school budget at $80,572,640, reflecting a 0.77% increase from the current budget; and the Board of Selectmen budget at $32,201,880, reflecting a 0.06% decrease from the current budget.

The finance board plans to keep the ending fund balance at $1.5 million. Kress stressed the importance of staying at that level in order for the town to maintain its AAA Moody's rating.

"If we put that AAA rating at risk, we will never ever get it back," Kress said. "That’s something this town needs to hold on to and cherish."

Before the meeting adjourned, the finance board managed to get the target mill rate down 1.89.

The current mill rate is 26.83 and the finance board will meet again today, April 7, at 7:30 p.m., to pass formal resolutions.