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Friday, March 21, 2014

Finance Board Approves $109.2 Million School Budget

By James Lomuscio

After two hours of debate and public input, Westport’s Board of Finance tonight approved by a 4 to 3 vote the Board of Education’s proposed $109,202,984 operating budget for 2014-15.

The budget presented by Elaine Whitney, school board chairwoman, represents a 4.2 percent increase over the current year, and it is $1.8 million less than Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon’s $110.8 million budget initially submitted to the Board of Education.

A motion by finance board member Tom Lasersohn to cut the budget by $200,000, which he described as “one quarter of 1 percent,” was defeated by a 5 to 2 vote. Lasersohn made the motion, challenging the school board “to find that money without affecting programs.”

For the past few months health insurance costs have overshadowed school budget process due to what was described initially as a $2 million health insurance fund shortfall in the 2013-14 budget blamed on unexpected, exorbitant claims.

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