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Board OKs budget with 3.99% spending increase

Members of the Starpoint School Board voted, 7-2, Monday to approve a budget of $40.3 million for 2007-08, an increase of 3.99 percent from the current budget year.

The School Board also voted, 9-0, to ask voters to pay $15.4 million for roof repairs and to connect the district's buildings together.

The 3.99 percent budget increase would mean an average increase of 55 cents per $1,000 in assessed valuation for taxpayers in the five towns that make up the district.

School Superintendent C. Douglas Whelan in January presented the public with the capital project proposal, which primarily deals with roof repairs in the district. Most of the Fricano and Intermediate buildings, as well as most of the main building, need new roofs, he said at the time.

Almost $5 million of the project would deal with roofing, Whelan said.

Other items are safety measures, a storage building and a new playground. The district would also connect the Fricano and Intermediate buildings with a music classroom addition -- at a cost of $1.8 million.

The buildings' brick walls need fixing, and the buildings need to be more efficient in terms of lighting, Whelan has said.

Assistant Superintendent Stephen J. Lunden said if voters approve the proposition, taxpayers would pay about $10 extra a year for 15 years if their houses were assessed at $200,000.

And although the School Board previously discussed having a prekindergarten program, the members said Monday they didn't want to implement one without thoroughly planning it in time for September 2008.

Preschool would have cost the district $106,000, but state aid would have paid for $103,000 of the expenses, Lunden said.

The board members did add some programs that were not in the current plan, including a critical-thinking department, which would be the equivalent of a full-time teacher; a school counselor to be shared with the Fricano and Intermediate schools; a science teacher for the high school; an art teacher; a special-education teacher in the high school; half a counselor's position in the high school; and a dozen new clubs or extracurricular activities for the middle school.

Only School Board members Mary C. Brown and Janice M. Covell opposed the budget.

Both Brown and Covell said they didn't think the board members were using the district's extra state aid properly.

The School Board will hold a public hearing on the budget at 7:30 p.m May 7 in the district board room, 4363 Mapleton Road. The public will get a chance to vote on the budget and the proposition from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 15 in the Middle School of the central district.

Board President Sam J. Geraci said a contingency budget, under state law, would only allow the Starpoint School Board to adopt a budget with a 3.84 percent increase. The board members would have to lop $58,000 off the proposed plan if voters defeat the budget.


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