Proposed $8.72m Hollis school budget facing review

HOLLIS – In the earliest stages of its review, the proposed Hollis school budget is about $107,000 higher than the Budget Committee wants it. School Board members presented the 2004-05 budget to the committee for the first time Thursday night.

The proposed budget totals $8,720,783. That amount does not include school-related warrant articles or the salary figures for 2004-05, which are still under negotiation.

It is also entirely separate from the Hollis/Brookline Cooperative School District budget, which only covers the two cooperative schools. The Budget Committee had recommended a budget of $8,614,167, a 2.9 percent increase from the 2003-04 budget of $8,367,708.

However, factors such as federally mandated special education programs and contractual salary increases cannot be controlled by the School Board, and usually increase year to year.

“Ninety-three percent of our budget we have no control over,” said Lee Ann Blastos, the board’s business administrator.

“Basically, what they’re doing every year is asking us to cut the budget while maintaining the best school district in the state,” board member Harry Haytayan said. “They’re only giving us inflation (percentage increase). What they’re doing is picking a number out of the air that has no relation to logic.”

Committee members asked the board to reduce the figures of certain expenses to reflect actual costs to the district.

The Budget Committee will review the Hollis School District budget again on Jan. 15.