As expected, the Baldwin school board last week unanimously adopted a budget proposal for 2013-14. The plan was hashed out during a series of public meetings and work sessions over the last few months, and includes a 7 percent tax levy increase. The budget total is a little over $121.5 million, an increase of just over $2 million over the current year.
The main factors in shaping the budget were decreases in state aid (see chart) and the rising costs of health care and retirement, which have increased by 27 and 22 percent, respectively. Speaking on Feb. 27, Dr. James Mapes, superintendent of Baldwin schools, characterized the small rise in school spending proposed for 2013-14 as an increase in expenses rather than an increase in expenditures.
The 7 percent tax increase will have to be approved by a 60 percent supermajority of Baldwin residents. The school district and the Board of Education are hoping that voters will volunteer in substantial numbers to pay more for their schools to help bridge an approximately $6 million gap between this year’s budget and the predicted costs for 2013-14. If the proposal fails to win at least 60 percent approval, the board will offer a second version for public consideration. If that is also voted down, the district will revert to a contingency spending plan — one containing no increases. The district estimates this would require about $9 million in cuts.
For a complete, three-part breakdown of the proposed budget, see www.baldwinschools.org. The proposal was sent to the state comptroller’s office last Friday.