School Board Make Cuts to the Upcoming Budget

By Paul Conyers

The School Board continued preparations for the budget season at their last October meeting with a series of budget proposals to bring before the town in the coming months.
Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Dan Moulis, outlined the need for a “budget reduction proposal” to fill a difference of a little over $1.25 million between what was put forward by the School Board and what is available from the town. After a week of going through the numbers, he had a few recommendations on what to cut, with an initial focus on staffing.
“Are there any positions here, where there is currently a person not planning to retire, not planning to move on, not planning to do anything, where we’re going to physically remove their job, or reduce their hours from what they currently have?” asked School Board member, Gary Gasdia. “I’m going to try and go with positions that are either vacant or going to be vacant.”
While the goal is to minimize the impact on employees, Moulis admitted that a few district employees could see work reduced from full-time to part-time. Some jobs will remain part-time, despite earlier plans to expand them to full-time positions. Other school positions like social emotional learning (SEL) interventionists, are currently funded using federal grants set to expire next year. Under the School Board proposals, several job titles will change as seen with the position of Communication Director changing to a lower-paid Coordinator position.
Several teaching positions were also reduced to a nominal payment of $1 salary based on retirement to move funds without formally cutting vacant positions.
“We’ll be reducing some positions to $1, throughout the night. That does not mean we are cutting the position, it means that the position may be currently vacant at the time,” School Board member, Michael Campbell, clarified. “We can reduce it to $1 and move funds later to help reduce the end-year fund balance.”
Several paraprofessionals will see reduced hours, something Campbell hoped would be a temporary arrangement that could be reversed during contract negotiations next year.
While staffing represented some of the most significant budget cuts, board members looked to make cuts in other areas, like a proposal to cut classroom management software from the technology budget. The software was in the budget last year, but has not been used or implemented due to cybersecurity concerns.
“It sounds as though it’s more of a pilot, it was budgeted and not yet deployed,” said Vice Chair, Maureen Dionne. The School Board also voted to reduce its supply budget.
However, the meeting wasn’t all cuts. Director of Facilities, John Pratte, spoke of training new locksmiths to improve school security. While his school plumber and electrician have been helping with locks, neither is formally certified and will need to undergo locksmith training.
Board members were supportive of a stipend dedicated to certification training as Board member, Ethan Beals, called school security a “number one priority.”
The School Board holds regular meetings twice a month at Hills Memorial Library at 6:30 p.m. unless otherwise stated.

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