LITCHFIELD — Region 6 held its annual town meeting at Wamogo Regional High School, presenting a proposed spending package totaling $19.9 million for 2019-20.
With revenue from the three towns, lowering debt obligations for a number of bonded projects, including new roofs and fields, and eliminating or consolidating a number of staff positions, this year’s budget reflects a savings of $133,733.
The budget for 2018-19 totals $20,039,596.
Before his presentation, Superintendent of Schools Chris Leone reminded the small audience to vote on the budget at the district’s town meeting May 6.
“I want to wager that we can get 200 people to vote for this budget,” he said, drawing a laugh from residents. “Bring your friends. Make sure you vote.”
Leone’s budget keeps the district’s spending flat, he said, and projected revenue from the district towns as well as tuition and other resources, totaling $19.9 million, will keep the towns’ costs at $17.3 million.
Enrollment changes for Goshen, Warren and Morris will result in an increase for two towns and a reduction for one, officials said.
Goshen’s share of the budget equals $8.035 million, an increase of $37,844.21 from the 2018-19 budget; Morris’ share totals $5,975,180, reflecting a decrease of $155,580; and Warren’s assessment is $3,296,651, an increase of $117,737 from last year.
This year’s proposed budget includes a capital spending plan for facility and infrastructure improvements to all four schools, totaling about $887,000. The plan includes an upgrade to the aging Eisenhaure Auditorium at Wamogo, which Leone said is long overdue; the auditorium was built in the 1970s and has never been renovated.
“We will address it,” Leone said, regarding the auditorium. “We will not ask for more money — we’ll work within our means.”
Changes to this year’s spending proposal includes a school resource officer at each school; Wamogo is the only school in the district that uses an SRO now. The Board of Education has also ended contracted services for classified staff positions, such as occupational and physical therapy, to save money.
“Occupational and physical therapy will be on our own books,” Leone said. “No more contracted services. We are continuing to be smarter, more efficient.”
The board also cut a custodial/maintenance position that formerly worked a third shift. Leone said there was no need for anyone to be in the building overnight, “since we have cameras and an alarm system,” he said.
The superintendent also reviewed the district’s capital needs budget. “Why does it matter? Because we’re chipping away at what’s needed — new windows, new floors, renovations, technology ... we got a new phone system, school-wide,” he said. “Computers, chromebooks, laptops, are all being replaced. We’re going to maintain our focus on every single detail.”
Resident Lois Silver and her daughter Billie Jean Sideris, both of Morris, said the school board and superintendent were doing a good job saving money.
“I don’t think we’ve had an increase in three years,” Silver said. “Nobody’s ever done that. He’s very fair and very up front; he’s done a good job.”
“It meets our needs,” Sideris said. “He’s very fiscally responsible.”
The May 6 budget hearing begins at 8 p.m. at Wamogo Regional High School.