O’Shea: I have spent a lot of time over the past year planning and discussing the 2013-14 school year budget. I am pleased with the outcome. After listening to requests from the administration and the public, my fellow board members and I have presented the public with a budget that comes in under the guidelines of the 2 percent cap. In fact, this is the second year in a row we have presented a budget that falls within those guidelines. With some reorganization and consolidating of services, we have once again been able to make cuts in the budget and keep the classroom education of our children intact. The 2013-14 budget provides us with the ability to maintain all our classroom programs. This budget does the job of keeping cost increases to a minimum while enhancing the current learning environment. State aid formulas and unfunded mandates continue to plague our school district, and we struggle to fund those costs. We have a good handle on the day-to-day operating costs of the school district and I will continue to look for savings.
Rubino: I do not believe that the Board of Education provides enough detail about the budget to enable residents to make an educated assessment. We are not provided with details such as how much it costs to run each grammar school, the middle school and the high school. We don’t know what portion of our budget refers to federal and state mandates, and more importantly, the unfunded mandates which are another fixed cost out of our control.
I don’t believe that in a year where the residents were asked to pass a $46 million bond that a budget increase of 3.59 percent, the highest in three years, was good for our community. Where is the “good faith” effort on behalf of the board to keep the budget increase to a minimum, respecting the financial impact the increase and the bond passage will have on residents’ future tax payments?
Financial accountability is paramount to ensure that our school district remains one of the best. If elected, I would work with the board to put forth a budget that the community would embrace because they understood each budget line and trusted that we did everything possible to produce a sound spending plan.