The 16.8% maximum increase is around $800,000, or 2% of our $41M budget. The superintendent said he would present a plan that kept within the goal of a 3% operating budget increase at the Nov 5 budget workshop.
You may recall that two weeks ago the plan was to fund the $2.3M athletic field makeover this way: $800,000 from the LGC/Health Trust settlement, the $300,000 track fund, $650,000 from delaying some capital and technology spending and $500,000 new from the taxpayers. The Health Trust settlement is actually an $800,000 discount for health insurance, $400,000 in the current fiscal year and a presumed $400,000 in the next. This seems obviously neutralized by the $800,000 increase in the premium next year and so now the field needs another $800,000 to be built.
Actually it's probably less. Presumably the district had some percentage increase for health insurance in mind before this number came in. I'll guess at least 5% ($240K, 0.6% of our budget), so they only have to come up with around $550,000 more for the field. The Orchard Drive land sale, which was left out of the last plan, is probably good for at least $300,000, possibly more if Durham grants a variance. It would require passing a more complicated ballot in March and the land sale actually closing to get the field.
You could then just ask the taxpayers for the remainder, changing the $500,000 (1.25%) new to $750,000 (1.8%). If the board holds themselves to their recent honesty in budgeting, they would have to then report a 4.8% impact on taxes, which they would phrase as a 3% operating increase and a 1.8% ask for the field. For that money you get full day K and a new field.
Of course the superintendent and board would probably prefer to do some more budget shuffling to pull another rabbit out of the hat to find the money for the field while keeping to their recently passed goal (4.25%). Genuine cuts in education so they get their field would be unseemly and I think unlikely.
Though it really didn't come out at the meeting, it seems like the field really won't go ahead if the taxpayers vote no on the one-time money (my issue last time). This isn't because the board realized their error and found their respect for democracy -- it's more that the staging plan, where the field is built over a couple of years, is impractical as it keeps the fields out of commission for an entire school year.
In other news, I mentioned at public comment that in addition to the field, the board should let the voters weigh in on Full Day K. They discussed this at the table, with the superintendent's position being that curriculum matters were the purview of the board and do not require an election day vote. Member Howland said the small increase (which he called around $60,000 annually) didn't rise to the level of a warrant article. (I think he may be lowballing the impact, but I can't find the number right now. Back of the envelope: going from 7 half day K to 6 full day K classes is an increase of 2.5 full time equivalents which has to be way more than $60K.) The superintendent said there would be a half-day option, but indicated there would be no transportation at midday. This is all subject to change when the committee makes its recommendation in December.
It was a short meeting, so I'll keep this short. Lee and Durham said YES to the solar power project, and ORCSD agreed to take the 10% excess power, so Moharimet will soon be partially solar powered. The district passed the child restraint policy and had an interesting discussion of medical restraint. On a sad note, Principal Allen and the board remembered Martin Brewer, a high school literature teacher who passed away last week, honoring him with a moment of silence.