The on Tuesday finalized a budget proposal for next school year that trims about $525,000 from a spending plan originally proposed by interim Superintendent John Reed.
The board, which had two members who got into a heated argument at the meeting (see details below), ended up approving a $26.79 million plan for the 2012-13 school year to send to voters. The proposal, which will be sent to voters, represents an increase of $859,101, or 3.31 percent, over the current plan.
The Board of Education has to present the plan to the town's Board of Finance and then will bring its proposal before the townspeople in late April, probably on April 23, for a public hearing.
The annual meeting for the town and school budgets this year will be held on May 7. Then the proposed town and school figures will be sent to a referendum, when voters will have the final say over town spending. The municipal budget is still being developed.
Reed originally proposed a budget that showed a 5.34 percent increase, or $1.38 million more than the current budget. The school board was able to find savings in several areas - including insurance and electrical cost savings - to pare the number down to a level that the board believes will be more palatable to voters.
As of now, the board has not proposed laying anyone off. The board will, however, eliminate a position next year by removing a first grade classroom at Quaker Farms School, but that job loss will be through attrition rather than a layoff or a firing, school board members said Tuesday night.
The board voted 6-1 in favor of the proposal with only board member Ted Oczkowski voting against it. But the fireworks came before the vote even took place.
Just before the vote, he accused the board's leadership of not being transparent and not giving all of the board members the proper information in a timely fashion. Board Chairwoman Paula Guillet took exception to the claims. She yelled at Oczkowski, banged her gavel several times to tell him he was out of line and told him he could leave the meeting, which he did after he cast his vote. She also said he had never picked up his mail at the Board of Education building and does not attend meetings regularly, which is why he isn't properly informed of what is happening.
Guillet told Oczkowski to try picking up his mail. Oczkowski, who, like Guillet is a Democrat but oftentimes sides with Republicans on the board, told Guillet she was showing her "true colors" and told her to not make the mistake of acting like she was his mother. She also said Guillet was getting out of control. After the meeting, Guillet was unapologetic for her actions and said she thought Oczkowski was the one out of line.
Some of that heated exchange was captured on videos by Oxford Patch. See the videos attached to this article.