What started as a 6.25 percent increase in Region 16’s school budget for next year quickly fell to a 3.93 percent increase.
The Region 16 Board of Education began its budget preparation early this year, in order to allow for more public participation throughout the process. The first look at the budget came during a Feb. 9 workshop, and what was revealed then was a projected $38.9 million school budget, an increase of $2.29 million over the current budget.
At the time, the increase was inflated because some costs were still unknown, and the administration built in assumed costs that were higher than anticipated. Also, there were expected savings that weren’t taken into consideration yet during the first budget workshop.
At the time, school officials expected the increase to drop dramatically. Just one week later the increase started to fall.
Last week, Superintendent of Schools James Agostine said the budget increase fell to roughly $1.44 million, or a 3.93 percent increase over the current budget.
The decline in the increase came about after some of the unknown numbers became known.
Originally, the board assumed a 15 percent increase in medical premiums. The actual increase came in at 8.25 percent, Agostine said.
“That was a tremendous savings,” he said.
A savings from teacher retirement, and the elimination of teaching positions also helped to bring down the increase.
Agostine said seven teachers are set to retire next school year. The board will realize a savings of a little more than $200,000 from the retirements, he said.
On top of the seven teachers retiring, Agostine said the equivalent of three and a half full-time teaching positions will be eliminated next school year due to a decrease in enrollment.
After the recent figures were factored in, the school budget stood at $38.1 million for next fiscal year.
Agostine said there is still much work left to do on the budget, and he expects the increase to continue its fall.
“We’re going to continue to scratch at it and whittle it down more,” Agostine said.
The board is scheduled to meet again on March 2 at 6 p.m. at Woodland Regional High School for another budget workshop.