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Oxford Town, School Budgets Nearly Set

Finance board will meet to finalize the budget this week; residents will have a say next week.

BUDGET WATCH 

Municipal Budget

2011-12 Adopted budget:  $13,380,716

2012-13 Proposed budget: $13,696,293

Proposed increase: $255,577 or 2.36 percent increase

(Note: Above is what the proposed municipal budget looked like after the Board of Finance cut $396,416 from the Board of Selectmen proposal last week. The finance board decided to table a vote on the proposed education budget until its next meeting, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Town Hall.)

Education Budget

2011-12 Adopted Budget: $25,939,146

2012-13 Proposed Budget: $26,798,247

Proposed increase: $859,101, or 3.31 percent

OXFORD - The Board of Finance will determine this week how much money it will ask taxpayers to spend in the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Board members will closely examine departmental requests Wednesday night at Town Hall in an attempt to bring the final number to a level they believe is fair for town and educational departments, as well as Oxford taxpayers.

Last Wednesday, the board met for several hours to find ways to cut from the original proposals by the Board of Selectmen and Board of Education. Late into the meeting, the finance board had cut $386,416 from a $14.03 million municipal budget proposed by selectmen. The finance board discussed but has not yet touched the education portion of the budget, which currently makes up for 66 percent of overall town spending. Instead, the board voted Wednesday to table the education budget discussion until this week.

At last week’s meeting, Finance Board Chairwoman Lila Ferrillo asked Board of Ed. Chairwoman Paula Guillet if she felt the board could cut $300,000 from its $26.79 million proposal.

Guillet said the school board is already starting with $230,000 less than it had this fiscal year because federal stimulus money that Oxford received for the past two years will not be available.

She also said the new programs and positions that the school board put into the budget could be removed, including, but not limited to: 

  • $58,000 to begin a formal relationship with Area Cooperative Educational Services, or ACES, which will help Oxford schools begin to align the curriculum from grade-to-grade and eliminate any gaps in learning;
  • Restoring freshmen football and one freshmen girls’ sport (either volleyball or softball) for $16,256;
  • $20,000 to restore the Talented and Gifted programs at and schools;
  • (.) 

“We’ve already cut the original proposal from Dr. Reed by 2 percent,” Guillet said, adding that if the board cut more, "we’d be cutting programs and positions that we’re trying to put back into the budget. It would be terrible.”

Board of Finance Member Tom Kelly spoke of shared sacrifice, saying that because other departments are being cut, then the Board of Ed. should expect that its budget be cut, too.

Ferrillo, the finance board chair, said she believes $300,000 in cuts could be found somewhere within a $26 million school budget. She suggested one way to save money would be to ask school employees with spouses if they'd be willing to receive a stipend in exchange for going off the school district's insurance policy. 

Finance Board member Nancy Schmitt said she believes the school budget proposal should be sent to voters the way it stands now. Her motion to do so was denied when the board tabled a vote on the school budget until this Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall. 

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