School budget talks begin

SOUTHWICK – Members of the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School Committee met yesterday with town administrators for a roundtable discussion on next year’s school budget.
Superintendent John Barry said the meeting was one of the first steps to preparing the Fiscal Year 2014 budget.
“We’re really just starting the budget process,” said Barry, noting that there is an expected shortfall in state funds.
“We’re well aware the tax receipts are not meeting benchmarks,” he said. “That has to be a factor.”
Barry also reminded everyone that residents of the three towns in the district would start paying for the school project next year.
School Business Manager Steven Presnal said in 2014 and 2015, towns will pay about 70-percent of the project obligation.
Granville’s 2014 obligation is $145,000, while Tolland will pay $42,000, and Southwick will pay $962,000. In 2016, Presnal said the towns will pay the full obligation, which is $204,000 for Granville, $59,000 for Tolland, and $1.3 million for Southwick.
Barry said another concern is the switch to Common Core curriculum, something adopted across the state.
“Twenty percent of the math curriculum and the English Language Arts curriculum has to be modified,” said Barry. “The materials have to change.”
Barry said this is the perfect time to discuss textbooks versus ebooks.
“It isn’t very far away that we’ll see tablets instead of textbooks,” said Barry.
The high school currently uses iPads to some extent, said Barry. They are also used in the special education department and as part of the new teacher evaluation.
“Technology, in some ways, is becoming cheaper,” Barry said.
Barry said the FY13 budget process went smoothly and without shortfalls, partly because of several retirements.
Barry said he expected to have another update with stronger numbers after the first if the year.

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