At tomorrow night’s joint meeting between the Advisory Committee and Board of Selectmen, our town leaders will get their first official look at both the K-8 and Algonquin budgets. The two school budgets are by far the largest line items in the overall town budget.
Earlier this month the K-8 School Committee approved a $16.99M budget for fiscal year 2012, which represents a 0.68% increase over the current fiscal year. On the regional side, Southborough’s share of the $18.5M Algonquin budget is calculated at just shy of $6.6M, an 8% increase over the current year.
Tomorrow night’s discussion comes after a rocky start to the budget season. While all sides said they hoped this year to avoid the town vs. school tension that often colors the budget process, it hasn’t worked out that way.
In December Selectman John Rooney got a cool response from the K-8 School Committee when he asked them to consider performance and cost data he had researched. Earlier this month Advisory Committee member John Butler suspended his liaison activity with the K-8 School Committee after he said they refused to engage in debate or provide requested documents. Butler’s decision led to a tense meeting between the two committees that did little to smooth things over.
School budgets are controlled by the respective school committees. So while the Advisory Committee and Board of Selectmen can vote on whether to support the proposed budgets or not, they don’t have the power to alter the requests. Voters at Town Meeting in April will ultimately decide whether to give the schools the money they’re looking for or not.
Selectmen and Advisory Committee members will also take a look at Assabet’s budget request tomorrow night. Southborough’s portion of the budget is expected to increase significantly over last year’s payment of $152K due to a proposed $62M building repair project. Half of the reno money will come from grants, but the school is looking to all of its member towns to foot the rest of the bill.
Tuesday’s budget discussion is expected to begin at 7:30 pm in the Town House Hearing Room (second floor). It’s open to the public. It will also be televised live on public access cable (Verizon channel 37 and Charter channel 12). For those of you joining in from the comfort of your living room, note that the Selectmen are meeting in executive session prior to the public portion of the meeting. Executive sessions are known to run long, so don’t be surprised if the broadcast starts later than the scheduled 7:30 pm.