The 2011 budget was $98.1 million for the operation of all schools in Westport, a 2.1 percent increase over the 2010 budget, and the Board of Education (BOE) and the Board of Finance (BOF) will discuss what next year’s increase in expenditures should be.
“You get a good idea about what the town’s appetite is for the budget for the coming year,” said Board of Education Chairman Don O’Day. “You get directional guidance from that.”
O’Day said there are three expenses on the budget that need to be addressed:
- Increase in contractual salary obligations
- Maintaining the facilities
- Special education
“For the past three years, we have had contractual salary obligations that require a certain percentage of increase year after year,” O’Day said, noting there must be room in the budget for these salary increases in order to avoid cutting the budget in other areas.
The BOE wants to ensure maintenance expenditures are not deferred any further as the spending has been focused mainly on safety-related maintenance in recent years.
“We have been deferring things like painting and other items that you don’t have to do under that umbrella of safety,” O’Day said. “But eventually, like with every home, you do need to bite the bullet and spend what it takes to properly maintain the infrastructure.”
O’Day also mentioned special education expenditures such as third party tuition and transportation costs that may need to be factored into next year's budget. Like every school system, Westport Public Schools receive annual state funding for special education, but the BOE is unsure of how generous next years' state grant will be.
“If the state isn’t able to provide us with a reimbursement level consistent with prior years, that will also be a drain on our budgets,” O’Day said.
As an additional order of business, the BOE will elect a chairman, vice chairman and secretary during their Dec. 5 meeting as the newly elected board officers will be in place.