The Day

Groton Board of Ed OKs proposed budget with 2.97% hike


Groton — The Board of Education has approved a proposed 2023-24 budget of $81.5 million, which represents a 2.97% increase.

The increase is among the smallest being proposed by communitie­s in the region.

The Board of Education’s budget and the town’s spending proposal will be presented at a public hearing scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, at the Thrive 55+ Active Living Center and as a virtual meeting.

The Town Council will then review the education budget at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, at the Town Hall Annex and via Zoom, as the first in a series of budget reviews.

Board of Education Chair Kim Shepardson Watson said the school budget, approved by the board on Feb. 22, keeps everything operationa­l in the school district and continues programs that help provide the best educationa­l services for children.

Superinten­dent of Schools Susan Austin proposed in January an education budget of about $83 million, which called for a $3.9 million or 4.98% increase over the current budget. Austin said inflation, increases in fuel and electricit­y, transporta­tion costs due to a new bus contract, and salaries were driving the budget increase.

Austin said the board was very thoughtful and went line by line through the budget.

Transporta­tion costs are still increasing, but through negotiatio­ns, the district was able to avoid some costs in the new bus contract, she said. The board also decided to use some supplement­al funds that

Groton receives from the Department of Defense toward technology.

The board also lowered the amount of funding in the health account after having savings over the past couple of years, she said.

“All in all we were able to bring down the adjusted budget to under 3%,” Austin said.

Shepardson Watson said the Town Council can’t make lineby-line adjustment­s to the education budget, but can cut the overall education funding, add to it, or approve it as is.

After holding department-by-department budget reviews, the council is expected to take a vote on the overall town and school budget on April 25. The budget then heads to the Representa­tive Town Meeting for approval.

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