School Department Heads Outline Spending Plans at Special Meeting
The second of two meetings was held Thursday night at Ridgeway Elementary School
Administrators during a special board of education meeting said that their budgets for the 2012-13 school year will not change much from this year's spending plan.
Buildings and grounds was among the departments that presented plans for next year's operations. Like the others, keeping costs down while maintaining standards was a focus, said Dave Galvao, supervisor of Buildings and Grounds.
"Overall, it's about the same as last year," he said. Galvao said that about $100,000 has been saved because of improvements to utilities throughout the buildings in the district.
Galvao said that hiring more skilled contractors may mean a higher upfront cost, it also reduces the need for additional repairs. Superintendent David Trethaway agreed.
"When there's a problem, it's corrected and it doesn't come back," Trethaway said.
Galvao said that his budget was created with the plan of addition maintenance staff, rather than relying on contractors to do certain repairs.
"That will make a tremendous dent in saving what we spend on services," he said. Two employees are in the budget, as well as additional funding to outfit a van for repair use and the purchase of a used van. The cost budgeted for subcontractor services would cover that staff, Galvao said.
"And next year we would be able to reduce that cost," said business administrator Craig Lorentzen, since the initial investment of supplies will have been made.
Galvao also advised the board that more work throughout the district may be needed in the coming years. When the when a facilities repair referendum was passed in 2009, it covered about $10 million of the $30 million of work that a consultant recommended.
"So you know sooner or later the other stuff is going to come up," said board president Donald Webster.
Budgeting in the transportation department, which always faces the threat of rising fuel prices, has remained stable, said supervisor Val Varga.
"Basically, my budget is the same as it was last year and I think we'll be able to survive with that," Varga said.
Varga said that he may be able to save money by working out transportation agreements with surrounding districts such as Lacey and Waretown.
But the department must also consider large purchases. The bus radio systems must be replaced by Jan. 1, 2013, Varga said, which would cost about $135,000. Lorentzen said that, since the district will have to purchase new buses soon, it may be possible to tie the cost of a new radio system into one lease purchase.
All 54-passenger buses will have cameras by the end of this year, Lorentzen said. Smaller buses will be "gradually" outfitted in the next 2 to 3 years, he said.
A food service agreement that was approved by the board last year is bringing in money for the district, but is also putting miles on the food service van.
"With the additional revenues, we may be able to buy a van with that," Lorentzen said.
Student and Administrative Services director Kevin Burger said that his department runs on "a very small budget for what we do."
Burger said the district saves money by consolidating testing days, such as was done during middle school testing. The mentoring program for new teachers, which costs $550 per instructor, is "extremely important," he said, and will be continued. Burger said that he would like to train additional specialists in dealing with harassment, intimidation and bullying.
Technology coordinator Clifford Conover said that he worked with a $40,000 this year, but next year's budget is a "significant increase" because of the lease purchase of over 170 computers which were deployed throughout the district.
An online portal for parents will open during the fourth quarter of the school year, making it easier for them to track the progress of their children.
"It's a great thing to provide information to parents," Conover said.
Regional Day School principal Ralph Lotierzo spoke about the challenges of keeping students in the school. Recent efforts, including an open house, led to the enrollment of two new students.
The school, which is run by Manchester for the state, is also working toward implementing the TOPSS program which would help students who have aged out of eligibility for the school by providing them opportunities to learn about the types of jobs they might be able to do in ways that are appropriate to each student’s level of ability and readiness.
The board of education will next meet for its regular meeting on Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m. in the media center of Ridgeway Elementary School.