G’town puts $13.8M budget on May 20 ballot

GERMANTOWN—The Board of Education approved two proposed money matters that will go before the voters on May 20: a 2014-15 budget of $13,843,600 and $510,792 for repairs urgently needed at the school building.

The proposed budget brings with it a tax levy of 1.43%. The budget is $308,232 higher than the current spending plan of $13,535,368.

The new budget reflects focuses on Academic Intervention Services, professional development for teachers and technology data-driven instruction, said Superintendent Susan Brown. She reviewed the proposals included in the budget: hire a high school social studies teacher, preferably one with certification in English; hire a library media specialist; hire one elementary teacher to increase speech and language remediation for the district’s youngest students and to teach a proposed pre-K pilot project.

In addition, the budget allows for professional development for teachers within the school, “during this time of change, with the advent of the Common Core Curriculum,” said Ms. Brown. Such development began this year, she said. It would continue through the next school year and then could probably be reduced.

Incorporated in the budget is also the reorganization of the administration into three instructional leadership teams.

At the time of their meeting, March 31, the board and superintendent did not have firm state budget figures, which were released April 1. According figures from the state Assembly, the Germantown district will receive $232,025 more in state aid in the upcoming school year than it received in last year’s state budget. (See chart on Page 10.)

In the meantime, plans within the proposed district budget are sustainable through 2014-15, Ms. Brown said Monday. After that, unless the state restored some funding that had been previously reduced, hours for the new high school teacher and the new media specialist might have to be reduced and the early intervention might have to end.

In answer to a question from the audience, Ms. Brown said yes, some money had been built into the budget for teacher contract negotiations.

The Public Hearing on the budget is May 7 at 6:30 p.m. in the school building, 123 Main Street.

A report from Terese Fuchs of the Community Facilities Committee preceded the board’s vote on the proposed building repairs. That committee has met every other week since late February. After the residents toured the building with an eye toward a major capital improvement project, they recommended three priority projects for immediate action, using the existing unreserved fund balance.

The projects are:

Replace the leaking roof over the science wing, estimated to cost $342,000

Repair or replace rusting water pressure tank, compressor and well controls, $83,000

Renovate kindergarten bathrooms, $85,000.

Leaks will damage the previously upgraded laboratory spaces. If the water pressure tank goes down, the school could be closed for weeks. Sanitation improvements in the bathrooms are needed.

The unreserved fund balance stands at $578,000, sufficient to cover the estimated $510,792 in repairs. The board declared itself lead agency under the state Environmental Quality Review Act process for the proposed project and officially declared it would not negatively impact the environment.

The Capital Improvement Project does not require a public hearing, but it will be on the ballot on May 20.

In other business, the board:

Heard update from former Supervisor Roy Brown on the town’s sidewalk project. Mr. Brown said he currently works part-time for Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. engineers, on the sidewalk project. Supervisor Joel Craig had received 10 pages of comments on the project from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and permission to move forward on necessary right-of-way work. After receiving rights of way from property owners, the project would be put out to bid and constructed.

The culvert across the street from the entrance to the school must be replaced, a three-to-five-week process, said Mr. Brown. The goal is to do this when school is out of session, but it may not happen this summer, he said. The board agreed, unanimously and wholeheartedly, that every effort should be made to do the bulk of the sidewalk project, estimated at five months, when school is not in session

Was reminded from the audience by Samuel Jones, high school science teacher representing the Germantown Teachers’ Association, that the teachers were now 1,004 days without a contract

Agreed with board member Brittany DuFresne that the Drama Club’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” was “amazing” and that “the dog stole the show”

Went into executive session for about 90 minutes regarding collective bargaining negotiations with the Germantown Teachers’ Association and matters involving one employee.

All board members except Teresa Repko and an audience of about 20 attended. The next regular board meeting has been rescheduled to Tuesday, April 8 and will begin at 6 p.m. with a presentation from students who participated in Odyssey of the Mind.

 

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