NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. — The Algonquin Regional School Committee on Wednesday approved a $19,240,779 budget for fiscal year 2014 that marks a $715,363, or 3.86 percent, increase over the previous year.
The approved budget is about $177,000 lower than what the committee discussed last month. Superintendent Charles Gobron reduced his budget proposal after the state sharply increased Northborough's share of the cost based on several factors, including changes to its funding formula and the town's recent economic growth.
Northborough will contribute $8,835,114 to the budget for an increase of $801,892. Southborough, meanwhile, saw its contribution cut by $12,897 to a total of $6,504,325. The remaining $3,901,340 will be covered by state funding, interest income and money from the district's excess and deficiency fund.
Gobron said he drew $400,000 from the fund, which holds unspent district money from previous years. He added that $360,000 remains.
To keep costs down, Gobron cut a full-time physical education teacher position and a part-time business teacher position. He also eliminated a part-time assistant principal.
"I don't like cutting $177,000 at all, but its my recommendation for the greater good," he said. "We are adding a math teacher, we are adding a science teacher. There are some increases in the budget."
Several committee members from Southborough questioned the decision to cut back the budget in light of Northborough's economic growth.
"That is a devastating number," said committee member Kathleen Harrigan-Polutchko. "But $30 or $40 million is a lot of money." She said if she were a Northborough parent living in a town with so much growth, she would be bothered by the cuts.
"Right, but your taxes will be going up with it," Gobron said. "Over the years, when the situation was the same with Southborough, we made adjustments to try to bring the budgets down."
Committee Chair Shirley Lundberg said the past five years have not been easy for either town. "I appreciate that the committee is willing to work with whichever town it is that seems to be hit by a difficult situation."
Regarding planned teacher additions she said, "I do feel like we're making some headway this year, and we have not made headway in a long time."
The FY14 budget includes about $100,000 in funding for an additional math teacher and an additional science teacher, which Gobron said were needed to serve a growing student population that is predicted to surpass 1,500 students.
The budget also includes $331,770 in contractual salary increases. Employees will see 1.55 percent increases, though Gobron said younger teachers who are still furthering their education will see more, resulting in an overall average of 3.8 percent.
Still, Gobron added that the agreement that resulted in these increases was the smallest collective bargaining agreement that district has seen since 1966.
Southborough voters will consider this budget at their April 8 town meeting. Northborough will do the same on April 22.