Braintree school officials are preparing for a challenging budget this upcoming year with the reduction of all federal stimulus money.
For the past several years, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and Educational Jobs Grant money, enacted in August of 2010, has provided funding for 9 teachers’ salaries and for approximately $400,000 in materials and supplies.
This will be the first year without both funding sources, and according to Braintree Superintendent Dr. Peter Kurzberg, officials have long known the transition would be difficult in fiscal year 2014.
“It is really putting a tremendous strain on our budget for next year,” Kurzberg said. “We’ve said from the beginning that this would be a challenging budget, and the loss of those funds and the need to absorb 9 teachers back into the operating budget as well as the addition of textbooks and instructional materials, it’s an added burden as we try to submit a reasonable budget that would allow us to maintain what we have.”
As a result, although FY14 provides a level-service budget from the current year, school officials have requested a $3.1 million increase in school spending.
In addition to $1.14 million in salary increases, $868,594 in step increases, and the $510,000 for nine teachers, and $40,000 for substitute teachers, the funding also accounts for $241,914 in special education spending, and funding for ELL and equipment contracts.
The phased approach to working items back into the budget means less spending for this upcoming year on materials. Unlike previous years, where spending was as high as $400,000, this year the schools will only spend $200,000.
For many classrooms, this means using photocopies of some books rather than new ones.
Kurzberg said the schools will save by using less natural gas. Replacement of windows at South and East Middle Schools, as well as at four elementary schools in the district, have helped cut energy costs.
“We’re doing everything we can to operate our buildings in as cost effective and efficient manner as possible, and we’ve looked at expenditures in the past few years and they have been below what we’ve been appropriating,” Kuzberg said. “This year has been a mild winter, so we’ve realized some additional savings in this year as well.”
As a whole, utilities – including water and sewer, electricity, natural gas, and telephone bills, are down $169,553, a 10 percent drop from last year.
Despite the drop in utilities, overall the budget will increase by 6.38 percent from $49.2 million to $52.4 million.
From here, the budget will be sent to the Mayor, who will then introduce it along with all of the town’s budgets to the Town Council.
The budget may also be impacted by Governor Deval Patrick’s budget, which would mean an extra $1 million for Braintree schools.