Rutland Town School cuts budget, schedules new vote
By Josh O’Gorman
STAFF WRITER | March 08,2013
The Rutland Town School Board wasted no time trimming its budget by $128,000 for a revote March 26.
During a meeting Wednesday night, the board adopted a proposed budget of $7,999,000, an increase of $326,085, or 4.2 percent, more than the current budget of $7,672,915.
Tuesday, by a 22-vote margin, residents rejected a proposed budget of $8,127,036, which represented an increase of 5.9 percent, or $454,120.
For the board, the most painful cuts came from previously proposed improvements to technology.
“It’s a tough thing to do,” said Board Chairwoman Lynette Gallipo. “It demolishes our technology, but it’s what we need to do.”
Board Vice-Chairman Bill Franzoni agreed.
“It’s cut more than I want it, but the taxpayers want it so I think we need to do it,” Franzoni said.
The technology cuts, which include reducing the number of SMART Boards from nine to three and eliminating the purchase of a laptop computer for the school nurse, result in a savings of $26,000.
One technology initiative was on the chopping block but was ultimately spared the ax. The district is proposing to purchase 28 iPads at $500 apiece, a cost of $14,000.
“The little kids, that’s how they’re learning,” said kindergarten teacher Linda Mullin. Board member Nicole McPhee suggested the iPads — which are designated for pupils in kindergarten through third grade — should be cut from the budget.
“I watch my 6-year-old play with it (iPad), but the taxpayers are not happy with the budget,” McPhee said. “If we don’t cut here, then where will we cut? I don’t want to bring another budget just to have it defeated.”
The biggest cut came not from technology but from personnel costs, which were slashed by $34,000. Among the positions cut is a special education paraeducator, a savings of $12,000. Even without this position, the school will still meet students’ needs, said Board Member Marnie Roussel.
“Based on discussion, we’ll have adequate coverage,” Roussel said.
“Students’ needs always come first,” Gallipo said. “If we need a para, we’ll get a para.”
Other cuts include a plan to replace ceiling tiles, a savings of $21,000, and a $15,000 reduction in school supplies. The district will save an additional $19,000 in insurance costs. When the board created the budget, it followed a recommendation from the state to plan for a 14-percent increase. That increase turned out to be 10.5 percent.
There was an additional $13,036 cut in miscellaneous expenses.
There will be an informational meeting at 7 p.m., March 25, at Rutland Town School. Voters will cast their votes the following day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Town Hall and the school.