The School Committee began its review of Superintendent Chris Hottel's school budget recommendation this week, which calls for a nearly $1.5 million increase over the 2011 school budget.
"This budget is built upon the mission, goals, directive and plans of the North Andover schools," Hottel said as he presented his detailed budget proposal to the School Committee. "We have achieved great successes in the past several years... And this will allow us to move forward to implement the programs and curriculum that continue to improve student achievement."
The School Department currently operates on a $36.9 million budget. Hottel seeks to increase that by 3.9 percent to $38.4 million, saying that simply maintaining existing programs and class sizes alone would demand a more than $636,000 increase. He also wants more than $800,000 for various new programs or expansions, including an expansion of therapeutic intervention programs into the middle school, $200,000 for elementary school literacy programs currently funded by grant money and $160,000 for assistant principal positions at the Franklin and Sargent elementary schools because those schools have more than 500 students.
The school budget this year was propped up by federal funds, including federal stimulus money and Race to the Top money, both of which are not slated to be provided next year. The federal stimulus provided North Andover with more than $322,000 this year, and a federal education jobs bill gave North Andover more than $450,000.
The superintendent's budget request takes into account several assumptions about the 2012 budget.
- Teacher salary increases totalling about $800,000.
- Other salary increases of 2 percent.
- Anticipated decrease of natural gas costs of at least 10 percent.
- Decrease in legal services of at least 10 percent.
- No increase in transportation costs.
- Increase in contracted services of 2 percent.
- Holding out-of-district expenses level with cost containment and expected enrollment.
Discussions began Tuesday as School Committee members met with the principals of North Andover High School and North Andover Middle School. They plan to meet with elementary school principals Thursday.
The School Committee plans to hold a public hearing about the budget on Jan. 18 and is expected to issue its own recommendation Jan. 20.