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$15.39 Million Education Budget Passes in Easton

EASTON, Conn. – After removing a few maintenance requests, staffing increases and supply needs, the Easton Board of Education approved a 2.91 percent increase for the 2012-13 school budget Tuesday night.

The budget, which was approved 5-0, totals $15,397,331.

“Believe it or not, I think we did a very good job of controlling our costs. We are at the point where there is nothing else to really pull out,” said Board of Education Chairman Dan Underberger.

Last month, Superintendent of Schools Bernard Josefsberg requested a 4.13 percent increase in his $15.58 million proposed budget. The budget covers only Helen Keller Middle School and Samuel Staples Elementary School .

It was anticipated that the Board of Education would make cuts after Underberger said he received word from the Board of Finance that all town departments must submit budget requests with increases of no higher than 3 percent.

Although much of Josefsberg’s budget proposal remained intact, the school board removed his request to create new positions, including a part-time art teacher at Samuel Staples and a K-8 STEM specialist, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math. The position would have been used for both Easton and Redding school districts. By making the cuts, it saved the town $70,000.

The board also sliced a media supplies request at Samuel Staples Elementary School from $5,400 to $1,100 and removed a capital request for maintenance improvements at Helen Keller Middle School. The maintenance request included: $2,500 for classroom painting, $4,500 to install panic buttons in the main office, $4,000 for locker repairs and $8,000 to repair a driveway and parking lot at the school.

The district hopes to install a wireless network at the elementary school, but the $13,000 needed was also denied. And the board reduced a request for science lab supplies to $13,000 and it cut $30,000 from the curriculum budget.

“If you add all that up, it comes to about $180,000” in savings, said Underberger.

Although the board made cuts, it was obligated to keep 2.5 percent of Josefsberg’s proposed budget request because of contractual agreements, health insurance costs and funding for special education, Underberger said.

The Board of Finance is expected to dissect the education budget March 7, according to Underberger. If any additional cuts are to needed, “We will be forced to look at personnel,” he said.

“The budget is, where the budget is and I am hopeful that the town of Easton understands that we are trying to do what’s best for our children.”

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