Special ed costs contribute to proposed increase

WILTON – An increase of about $400,000 in special education tuition costs is the main reason for an estimated 11.6 percent rise in the proposed 2004-05 budget for the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Middle and High School.

The regular operating budget proposal represents an increase of about 6 percent.

The School Board looked at preliminary figures Wednesday night and plans to meet with the Budget Committee on Jan. 7.

The unexpected rise in special education costs also has created a deficit this year of about $250,000, a problem that will be addressed in a warrant article at the annual district meeting in March. Principal Trevor Ebel said an increase in the textbooks account covers a rise in the student population, next year’s change to block scheduling, and the continuing updating of textbooks.

The number of students has increased by more than 20, Ebel said. Chairwoman Gretchen Dunn also mentioned an increase of 15.5 percent in medical insurance premiums.

Several staff changes will be proposed to the Budget Committee, including the new School-to-Careers position currently funded by a grant that will not provide full funding next year and an increase in hours at the high school for the technology coordinator who is shared with the elementary school.

The School Board will resume negotiations with the teachers associations in order to have a new contract proposal ready for the district meeting. The most recent contract proposal was defeated by voters last week.

Most of the board members blamed the defeat on tax bills that had been received a few days before the meeting.