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Proposed education budget shows modest increase

WESTERLY — After an addition of $10,000 to the music budget, the School Committee has ratified Superintendent Roy Seitsinger Jr.’s 2014-15 recommended budget. The vote was 4-1.

The little more than $54.7 million budget requires a $45.2 million contribution from the town, an increase of 1.675 percent.

The budget next goes to Town Manager Michelle Buck, who will pass it on to the Finance Board.

“The budget is an efficient budget request that allows us to get things done that we need to get done but is reasonable for the community,” Seitsinger said. “There are always things as a superintendent that you would like to add to a budget but my and the School Committee responsibility is to reasonably pursue our goals in the context of our partnership with the entire community.”

Because the budget already included an allocation for music, the additional money will allow officials to divide it evenly: $5,000 to the high school, $5,000 to the middle school and $5,000 to the town’s four elementary schools.

“The superintendent’s recommendation, which I support, is a modest increase and less than originally brought forward to the School Committee,” Chairman David Patten said. “I look forward to the discussions with the Finance Board and Town Council as we determine how our request fits with the larger financial picture of Westerly.”

Patten, Gina Fuller, Mary Raftery and James Murano Jr. — Jay Goodman was the lone vote against the recommendation — accepted the budget that is built around a reduction of 5.7 full-time employees, equaling about $568,650, but includes a new safety officer position.

The salary for the part-time safety officer position is about $35,000.

While there is an anticipated state aid increase of 9.54 percent, the proposed budget includes money for the technology leasing program, funding to support collaboration with the town for playground improvements and additional money for the high school physical education program, according to Seitsinger’s executive budget summary.

As a percentage of the total town budget, schools has decreased by 5.29 percent from fiscal year 2011 through fiscal year 2015, Seitsinger said.

“We are looking forward to meeting with the Finance Board beginning on Feb. 27 to discuss our budget further,” he said.

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