A referendum on the spending plan for Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, is today. Voting is open until 8 p.m. and is taking place at the firehouse in Prospect and Laurel Ledge Elementary School in Beacon Falls.
The proposed budget is nearly $38.5 million, an increase of just about $1.2 million or 3.2 percent over the current budget.
The proposal will increase the net education cost to Beacon Falls by $382,888 or 4.07 percent, to nearly $9.8 million. Prospect’s net education cost will increase to nearly $16.1 million under the proposal, an increase of $723,765 or 4.7 percent.
The proposal is the third one the board has sent to a vote. The original proposal was rejected by 185 votes at a May 7 referendum. A second, revised budget was defeated by 45 votes at a referendum May 30.
All three machine votes were forced by petitions.
The board has trimmed the original budget proposal by nearly $332,000 to reach the $38.5 million figure.
The board has cut or reduced a number of positions over the course of the budget process.
Five intervention specialists, a middle school teaching position and a third-grade teaching position at Laurel Ledge have been eliminated. The board will not be filling a full-time position in special education. Two cafeteria aide positions have also been cut.
Also, the board reduced a theater teacher from a full-time position to a .8 position, a half position in art and a half position in consumer science all at Woodland. The board also reduced a full-time custodian position at Algonquin School in Prospect to part-time.
Following the second failed referendum the board cut the assistant coaching positions for golf and cheerleading at Woodland.
Major cost drivers for the budget include increases in fixed costs such as tuition for students who attend magnet schools and special education students who are out-placed to schools for services the district can’t provide, health insurance and debt service. The increase in debt service is a result of the preliminary bonding of the $47.5 million three-part construction project, according to school officials.
For more information on the budget, visit www.region16ct.org.