School district proposes budget increase

Feb 17, 2021

The Old Rochester Regional School District’s 2022 preliminary budget contains an increase of over $500,000 from last year, and some School Committee members blame the state for not helping to close the gap as costs increase.

“Education has been a long-term need that has not been addressed adequately,” ORR School Committee member Heather Burke said at a Feb. 17 meeting.

A draft budget presented to the ORR School Committee proposed an increase of about 3%, bringing the total up to $20,261,158.

The increase comes from added costs related to the hiring of two new full time employees, salary increases for teachers and staff, and projects like the addition of a computer and science lab in the Junior High.

But Burke said that because the state hasn’t kept up with funding increasing costs, a gap is left every year for towns to fill themselves.

“I think that our towns should be very thankful that we’re coming forward with a reasonable budget request,” Burke said.

She added that any perceived animosity between towns and school districts over yearly budgets is “manufactured” by a lack of funding from the state.

“As the state reimburses less by not keeping up with the rate of increase, our towns have to pay the difference,” Burke said.

A public hearing for the district’s fiscal year 22 budget will be held on March 2 at 6:30 p.m.