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Board of Education Accepts Proposed Lyme-Old Lyme School Budget

Following a sparsely-attended public forum on the proposed budget for Lyme-Old Lyme schools, the Board of Education voted to accept the $31,741,789 budget for fiscal year 2013-2013. Here are the highlights.

Even though it was the public's first opportunity to see the proposed budget for Lyme-Old Lyme School District, few people attended last night's public forum. However, after working for three months to help develop the budget, the Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education had no problem accepting it unanimously.

The proposed budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 is $31,741,789, which represents a 2.36 percent increase from the previous budget. The operations and program budget amounts to $27,709,107, an increase of $435,595.

Biggest Slices of The Pie Go To ...

Because Lyme-Old Lyme is a regional school district, it services its own debt. As a result, 13 percent of the overall budget is debt service, which amounts to $4,032,682. That's an increase of $295,230 or 7.9 percent over the 2012-2013 budget but the debt service is particularly high this year because of ongoing renovations at Lyme-Old Lyme High School. 

The lion's share of the school budget (63 percent) goes to pay salaries and benefits. Board of Education Chairman James Witkins and School Superintendent Ian Neviaser both praised the teacher's union for being flexible in their negotiations, however. 

Salaries are increasing by 2.31 percent this year after teachers agreed to accept no raises at all last year. The cost of benefits also decreased by 1.72 percent because school employees agreed to move to a health care plan with a higher deductible. That, Witkins said, "was a major change." 

Increases and Decreases

The biggest increases in the proposed budget are in certified and noncertified staff salaries, maintenance and debt service. The Special Education budget also increased by $22,040 but, Neviaser explained, that includes a new certified staff person that will allow the schools to offer more programs in-house, which will ultimately save the district money as it will mean fewer students will need to be sent out of the district for services. 

Benefits, instructional programs, administration services and support services were some of the areas where the budget decreased compared to the previous year.

Another decrease the district anticipates in the 2013-2014 school year is in enrollment. Student enrollment is expected to be between 1,419 and 1,422. That's 23 to 26 fewer students than currently attend school in the district. Although the biggest decline is expected to happen at the elementary and high school level, student enrollment is dropping at the middle school too. Neviaser said that staff levels will be reduced and some staff reassigned as a result of the dip in enrollment. 

What The Budget Includes

The proposed budget covers the cost a variety of facilities improvements, including:
  • Irrigation of the new soccer/lacrosse field at Lyme-Old Lyme High School
  • Electronic security door system replacement at all schools except the high school, which has them already.
  • Playground bollards at Mile Creek Elementary School
  • Energy efficient lighting at all schools
  • A new fence for the front of Center School
  • Basketball backboard replacement at Lyme Consolidated and Center School.
  • The installation of permanent track field bleachers at Lyme-Old Lyme High School.
Program improvements include:
  • Funding to support the state-mandated CORE curriculum program.
  • The reconstituting of technology education programs at Lyme-Old Lyme High School that includes a marine mechanics program. 
  • A special education transition program
  • Funding for a "teacher in charge" at Lyme Consolidated and Mile Creek elementary schools. This is a security measure that gives a designated teacher authority in an emergency in the event that the principal is off-site. 
"No programs have been cut in this budget," Neviaser said. 

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