Technology upgrades, spending reductions reflected in BOE budget

By Melanie Savage
Hebron - posted Tue., Feb. 1, 2011
Power School, the new student data base included in the FY 2011-12 proposed BOE budget, will allow for electronic record-keeping for teachers (see above screen shot) and provide an interface for parents and students. Contributed photo. - Contributed Photo

HEBRON - At their regular meeting on Jan. 27, the Hebron Board of Education unanimously voted to pass down an $11, 818,180 budget to the Board of Finance. This represents a 0.872 percent increase from FY 2010-11. Included in this figure is $31,200 for a new student data base (Power School), which the board originally identified as the only “new” item in an otherwise “maintenance” budget. Also included are two items which were originally identified as “optional.”  Option number one is a technology package which encompasses six SMART tables for grades kindergarten and one, and 10 SMART boards for grades six and two, for a total cost of $20,580. Option number two is $3,000 to provide for recording of board meetings.
The budget reflects the fact that teachers will not see an increase for FY 2011-12, per an arbitration agreement reached in November.
Also reflected is an $82,000 reduction in expected insurance costs, due to a low number of claims against medical and dental insurance district-wide.
In accordance with a request made by the Board of Selectmen, Superintendent Ellie Cruz provided a list of changes that would need to be made in order for the district to produce a zero percent increase. “I understand the value of looking at these,” said Cruz, “but things will change.” There is likely to be a further one percent reduction in insurance costs ($13,000), she said, and there might still be retirements. “That could significantly change our bottom line,” said Cruz.
First on the list of reductions would be the technology option package and the videotaping. Other items include reductions to periodicals and library book funding, data processing, and software. Further down on the list is a non-union furlough ($5,401) and $32,000 representing two non-certified employee positions, as well as the related $11,406 reduction for health insurance. Cruz pointed out that these reductions were not recommended by the administration or the board, and would hopefully not become necessary.
Cruz presented a brief overview regarding the decision to go with taping meetings for public television broadcast versus live streaming. Startup and ongoing costs for live streaming, she said, would be significantly higher. “But this would get us started,” said Cruz.

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