School board, budget committee discuss 2019-2020 plan

WILTON – At a joint meeting of the School Board and the Wilton-Lyndeborough Budget Committee on Sept. 25, three areas of the proposed 2019-2020 were discussed: SAU expenses, technology and the Capital Improvements Plan.

Joint meetings of the two boards will continue throughout the budget preparing season in an effort to eliminate friction and arrive at a budget agreeable to both boards.

The SAU budget is “basically flat,” Superintendent Bryan Lane said. “We have moved some accounts around for clarity and there are increases in fuel and lighting based on the consumer price index.”

A deficit is projected in the current budget in fuel because of increased costs.

In the technology area, there is a decrease of about 2.8 percent, although there is an increase in software costs.

Technology Director Kevin Varratti said there could be savings in communications if the district’s four phone numbers, “which they have had forever and everybody knows,” were changed to a new system. Since the contracts will be renegotiated next year, it could be possible to switch systems and retain the numbers.

The Budget Committee is requesting “a flat budget,” Chairman Leslie Browne said, “We are looking for value.”

Following the joint session, the School Board discussed several issues. Chairman Harry Dailey said a “flat budget” would be impossible without cuts in the budget, since contracts with teachers and support staff are contracted with built-in raises. “They were voted at district meeting and we have to pay them,” he said. A “flat budget” would have no increase in the bottom line.

Those contracts total about $130,000.

A “level budget” would mean no increases in line items other than the contracts.

Lane said the legislature has passed two rules which amount to “unfunded mandates.” These require testing of “all drinkable water” for contaminants and upgraded technology security.

The next joint meeting will be held on Oct. 9.