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Friday, February 07, 2014

School Board Ponders Cuts in Next Year’s Budget

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s Board of Education in a special meeting tonight voted unanimously to set aside $240,000 taken from its $104 million operating budget to help offset a more than $1.9 million health insurance shortfall this year due to unexpected large claims.

The vote followed more than three hours of discussions on another matter—ways to trim Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon’s proposed $110.8 million 2014-15 operating budget, a 6.56 percent increase. The jump is due to the insurance shortfall plus new educational strategies, including the STEM (science, technology engineering and math) program.

“It’s a significant increase (6.5 percent), and we’re trying to be as responsible as we can, looking for areas where we can tighten our belts a bit,” said Elaine Whitney, school board chairwoman.

Whitney noted that if the health insurance shortfall had been figured into the current year’s budget, the adjusted increase for next year would be only be 4.8 percent.

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