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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

BOE Budget $1 Million Less Than Landon’s

By James Lomuscio

After weeks of reviewing School Superintendent Ellliott Landon’s proposed school budget for next year, Westport’s Board of Education tonight unanimously approved a $104.18 million budget for 2013-14. It will now head to the Board of Finance and the Representative Town Meeting (RTM).

The board approved budget is more than $1 million less that what Landon had proposed and represents a 3.95 percent increase over this year’s operating budget.

“I’m hopeful the Board of Finance and the RTM will see the diligence we put into this,” Landon told the board.

Turning to the audience in the Staples High School cafeteria, as well as viewers at home, he added, “This Board of Education cut more than $1 million from the original budget I proposed.”

The cut was were gleaned from a host of savings, including a $500,000 reduction in healthcare costs from reserves, $127,000 from matured funds moved to retiree health benefits, $100,000 more than expected in its special education tuition account, a grant and cuts from supplies and technology.

“I see no reason why the town would not embrace a 3.95 percent increase,” Landon said as the board crunched final numbers prior to the vote.

In other matters, the school board voted unanimously on the school calendars for 2013-14 and 2014-15, an established practice of preparing two years so parents can plan, according to Landon.

The calendars add five snow days. If all are used and more are needed, make up days will cut into the April vacation. The school year, which starts before Labor Day and ends June 20, also ends a long established tradition of Columbus Day, a public holiday celebrated the second Monday of October, as a day off from school.

When Elaine Whitney, school board chairwoman, raised the question if a day before Labor Day could be substituted, board member Michael Gordon said, “choosing one or the other, I think Columbus Day is better” not to have

off. The board agreed and the new calendars were unanimously approved.

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Posted 02/05/13 at 04:07 AM



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