Salaries, benefits increase Springfield school budget
By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | January 14,2013
SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield School District announced there will be a slight increase in the proposed fiscal year 2014 budget during Thursday’s special School Board meeting.
According to Director of Financial Services Steven Hier, Springfield High School requested an additional $31,190 to cover a sabbatical for a staff member while the school district requested $14,500 to cover salaries and benefits for three school district employees set to retire. The additions were made at a budget advisory meeting Jan 7.
The new school budget is now $28.3 million, a 0.2 percent increase from the recently proposed budget of $28.25 million. The newly proposed budget represents a 2.17 percent increase from the fiscal year 2013 school budget of $27.7 million.
Even though there is a slight increase in the proposed budget, two administrators made their cases for additional staffing and future school renovations. The Special Education program is requesting $5 million for the new fiscal year, $100,000 more than this year’s budget of $4.9 million. Much of the increase was attributed to a $65,000 request to hire two paraeducators and an additional $12,400 for consultant services.
Director of Special Services Sarah Vogel said there will be more students entering the early childhood special education program. The two paraeducators will improve the delivery of special education.
Hier explained that consultant services were necessary for students with special needs. The services include the Vermont Associations for the Blind and Deaf and Hard of Hearing, movement therapy and other programs.
“Because of their disabilities, they require specific services,” Hier said.
School Board member Ken Vandenberg asked whether paraeducators were essential, citing that salaries and benefits were a major cause for the budget increase. Vogel said the paraeducators were critical to the program.
“These are not the same as classroom paraeducators (who) are working with a group of children. These are individual paraeducators working with students with disabilities,” Vogel said. “Based on incoming students, students who are graduating from the program, and students we expect will need (one-on-one attention), we thought two paraeducators would be needed.”
After Vogel was finished, maintenance building director John Fitzpatrick gave his opinion about the 7 percent decrease in the school district capital plan. The proposed budget is approximately $458,600, $35,900 less than this year’s budget of $494,500.
While Fitzpatrick understood the School Board needs a level-funded budget, he stressed that major repairs will have to take place at Springfield High School and Riverside Middle School sometime in the future.
“A bond is really important for the two schools that haven’t had major renovations in years,” Fitzpatrick said. “I know we just got through with a big renovation project but in order to do something right, you really want to get some big renovation jobs.”
There will be another budget meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Springfield High School Library.