Region 16 budget passes at referendum

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Ballot Clerk Gary Komarowsky hands Juliann Groth a ballot to vote on Region 16’s proposed $40.5 million 2015-16 budget during a referendum Tuesday at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. The budget passed, 580-441. –LUKE MARSHALL
Ballot Clerk Gary Komarowsky hands Juliann Groth a ballot to vote on Region 16’s proposed $40.5 million 2015-16 budget during a referendum Tuesday at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. The budget passed, 580-441. –LUKE MARSHALL

REGION 16 — Region 16’s $40.5 million budget for fiscal year 2015-16 passed at a referendum Tuesday by 139 votes.

“It’s always great when we pass a budget on the first time,” Board of Education Chair Donna Cullen said. “We worked hard on it. We feel it’s a good solid budget for the students and for the towns and for the region.”

The budget for the region, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, is an increase of $796,500 or 2 percent over the current budget. It was approved by a vote of 580 yes to 441 no.

The spending plan was carried to approval by Prospect voters, who approved the plan 421 to 234. The budget was rejected by voters in Beacon Falls, as 207 votes were cast against the budget versus 159 votes in favor of it

“Honestly, it would be great if we passed the budget in both towns,” Cullen said. “But, I understand today’s economy.”

The net education cost for Beacon Falls under the budget is $10,832,933, an increase of $382,621 or 3.66 percent. Prospect’s net education cost will increase $502,894 or 3.01 percent to $17,224,839.

The net expenses are calculated by taking the total expenditures required and subtracting the revenue from state and local sources.

The budget includes implementing a full-day kindergarten program next school year, which will cost an additional $388,521. Other major increases in the budget include a $453,667 increase for health insurance, $261,175 more for utilities and $116,225 more for salaries.

The spending plan also includes $9,500 for a STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Math) enrichment program and $4,500 to develop a talented and gifted program at Long River Middle School in Prospect.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin said he’s thankful for the voters in Beacon Falls and Prospect, the Board of Education, and the entire educational staff in the district who have supported the budget.

“I’m just very grateful that we have a budget for next year and we can move forward,” Yamin said.