Baldwin School Budget passes with Pamela Green voted in. The spending plan focuses on the future


The Baldwin school budget passed on Tuesday evening with 1042 yes votes and 365 no votes. Propositions 2 through 6 were also passed with over 70% yes votes for each prop. Along with the budget and propositions passing, Pamela Green was elected to replace Karyn Reid as a trustee on the Board of Education this upcoming July. Baldwin Library Trustee Shereen Abed was also re-elected.

The Baldwin Board of Education recently outlined how student programs would be expanded and technology upgraded under the district’s $157.7 million budget.

The spending plan, which was adopted on April 27, is $10.7 million larger than the current budget, and would stay below the state’s tax cap with a 1.99 percent tax levy increase.

About 75 percent of spending would be earmarked for education, with the remainder set aside for capital reserves and administrative purposes.

“Baldwin is very future-focused in many different ways and in many different programs,” school board president Susan Cools said at a budget hearing on May 3.

Cools noted how the budget would prioritize students’ future by adding new programs, as well as expanding existing ones, such as Baldwin 2035.

“This program is for the kindergartners who will graduate in 2035,” Cools said. “This is a program that has been going on for a couple years that involves community members, parents, teachers, staff and students, and it really has been an amazing program of learning and sharing feedback as far as what education needs to look like going forward.”

Another program singled out for expansion under the proposed budget is the Better World Project at Baldwin Middle School. In the program, students team up with one another and their local communities to engage in work that positively impacts the world.

“Seventy-six percent of our budget is (for programs), which involves the teachers, books and the education of the kids in our community,” education board vice president Thomas Smyth said.

Smyth detailed how inflation played a role in the spending plan. 

“Anybody who watches the news sees the 8 percent inflation over the last several months,” he said.

“This is part of what’s driving the increase in our budget — fuel costs, transportation costs, health insurance and special education programs. Some of these increases are because we’re back to being fully open.”

Next’s year’s state aid will help compensate for inflation, coming in at $48.9 million, an increase of $9.4 million over the current year.

“There have been a lot of really dark years, and it’s really nice to see that the state is helping our district more,” Smyth said.

Along with the budget, this Tuesday’s ballot featured Proposition 3, which would make use of capital reserve funds to help refurbish and update the more than 100-year-old schools.

“There will be auditorium seat replacement in the middle school,” board trustee Mary O’Hagan explained. “We’re also going to work on updating the burglar alarms and HVAC units.”

The first priority, however, would be enhancing building safety and security. Other upgrades would include an increase in kitchen space at all five elementary schools, as well as more cafeteria space at Brookside and Steele elementary schools.

In addition, Proposition 4 on the ballot would utilize the technology reserve fund to replace outdated equipment. “During the pandemic, we spent a great deal of money on Chromebooks and other forms of technology to effectuate instruction at home,” O’Hagan said, “and we have to find a way to replace those on an ongoing basis.”

She added that old Chromebooks would be replaced, iMacs would be installed in the high school tech lab and art studios, Smartboards would be replaced and the schools’ security server would be updated.