Brookline voters eye $8.94m plan for schools

BROOKLINE – The Brookline School District budget hearing will be Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Captain Samuel Douglass Academy.

At the hearing, registered voters will be given a presentation of the proposed operating budget and other warrant articles.

Voters will have the chance to discuss each item on the warrant and give feedback. They won’t get to vote on the budget until School District Meeting in March, after the School Board amends it, with input from the finance committee.

The proposed budget for the 2009-10 school year is $8.94 million, an increase of about $476,000, or 5.6 percent, over the current budget. In addition, three warrant articles totaling about $72,000 would bring the total spending package to $9.01 million, an increase of 6.48 percent over current spending.

School Board Chairman David Partridge said the budget increase is driven mainly by rising costs in three areas – special education (up $282,000); benefits, including health care and retirement (up $131,000); and salaries for teachers and administrators (up $171,014).

>>Town Meeting ‘09<< Partridge said there will be five articles on the warrant at the school district meeting in March. They are: $10,000 for a maintenance expendable trust. $1,700 for Alert Now, a reverse 911 phone system. $60,645 for the second year of the support staff contract. There are two warrant articles that have no pricetags: one for a utilities expendable trust fund and another for an integrated preschool program in the district. The in-district preschool would save the district the cost of tuition under the current arrangement, and it could possibly be a source of revenue. Finance committee member Larry Rodman predicted that taxpayers will be "voting with their wallets this year." Rodman said revenues are expected to dip slightly as a result of a decrease in building permits. The finance committee, which assumes an advisory role, is asking the town for a zero increase budget and plans to make the same request to the school board, Rodman said. If the budget is cut back to last year's amount, the school district will be forced to make program or staffing cuts, or both, he said. Rodman said the impact of the proposed budget on the tax rate would be available at the budget hearing. Last year's budget was $8,461,712