District to tackle $8.79m budget

BROOKLINE – What the taxpayers give, they also have the power to take away.

The Brookline School District will face an $8.79 million budget, a 3.9 percent increase over last year’s budget of $8.46 million, at its annual meeting Tuesday.

“The town has to agree if it can stomach this,” School Board Chairman David Partridge said.

The town’s Finance Committee, which assumes an advisory role, asked the school district to keep the budget flat. However, the majority of the School Board felt that a lack of increase in next year’s school budget would force the district to cut programs and increase class size.

If You Go:

If the proposed budget undergoes more trimming, the district would be forced to cut language arts and environmental and readiness programs, Partridge said, adding that the three programs were voted in by taxpayers at previous meetings.

In addition to cutting teaching jobs in these programs, the district would also be forced to eliminate other teaching jobs, resulting in larger class sizes, Partridge said.

The 3.9 percent increase in the proposed budget is driven by increased costs for:

Special education, $282,282.

Salaries for teachers and administrators, $171,01.

Benefits, including health care and retirement, $131,457.

Partridge also said there will be four articles on the warrant.

An article for an expendable trust to provide a safety net for fluctuating fuel prices was dropped because the board is able to buy fuel at lower price.

The four remaining warrant articles 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.

$9,000 for a one-time startup cost to buy furniture for an in-district special education preschool program that officials say would save the district the cost of tuition under the current arrangement, reduce travel time and expenses for case managers, and provide an easier transition for the children.

Under federal law, school districts are required to provide early childhood education to children with special needs starting at age 2-1/2 and continuing until the child turns 21.

The budget is based on a fiscal year that begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2010.