Springs Holds Steady

Few cuts expected, despite growing student body

    Unlike last year, when Springs School was forced to cut $792,000 from its preliminary budget, parents and teachers breathed a sigh of relief following Tuesday night’s second budget workshop. No cuts are planned for the coming 2013-14 year.
     “We are not looking to increase costs or cut programs,” said Thomas Primiano, the district’s treasurer, at the start of Tuesday’s meeting. “We’re just looking to stay healthy in the current climate that we’re in.”
    The meeting addressed issues related to instructional programs, special education, the library, co-curricular activities, and interscholastic athletics, among other topics.
    While no cuts are planned, Mr. Primiano said that the preliminary budget would increase by about $150,000.
    He said that enrollment is up 22 percent since the 2005-6 school year, a trend that is projected to continue. While Springs enrolled 667 students this past year, 712 pupils are projected for next year between prekindergarten and eighth grade, with an average class size of about 21 students — with 15 students per class in prekindergarten and 22 per class in the eighth grade.
    Additionally, the English as a second language population is projected to increase from 61 students this year to 77 by the fall.
    The preliminary $23.8 million budget also proposed a 3.61-percent increase in the tax levy over this year. This year’s budget is $24.6 million.
     “We’re in a good place for now,” said Kathee Burke Gonzalez, the board’s president. “What we’re trying to look at as a board and as a budget committee is how this projects out over the next few years. While it appears we can come under the cap and afford what we need, how will it look the year after that and the year after that?”
    At Monday night’s school board meeting, Ms. Burke Gonzalez announced that she would be stepping down after nine years of service and that she would not be seeking re-election this spring. Teresa Schurr, another board member, is also stepping down.
     “The time was right for myself and for my family. It’s an emotional decision and we give our heart and soul to this,” said Ms. Burke Gonzalez, who held back tears during Monday night’s announcement. She has been the board’s president for two years.
     “Serving the community has been a life-altering experience. It’s made me a better listener and helped me get over my fear of public speaking,” she said. “It’s also set a tremendous example for my two kids about giving back.”
    She urged audience members to consider board service, adding that petitions are now available. They require 25 signatures and are due back to the school by April 22.
    At Monday night’s meeting, the board heard a presentation concerning a proposed sex education curriculum and a proposed vestibule for the front entrance to help enhance school safety. The vestibule’s projected cost is around $100,000. John Foster, a Springs teacher, also discussed a new golf program for kindergarten through eighth-grade students.
    A third budget work session to cover issues related to tuition, the Board of Cooperative Educational Services, employee benefits, administration, the projected budget, and the tax rate is planned for March 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the school’s common room. If necessary, a fourth work session will be held on April 3 at the same time. The board must adopt its proposed budget by April 23.