HARVARD -- With a budget of $11,790,588 on the table, interim Superintendent Joseph Connelly presented the School Committee with an updated Budget Subcommittee report Monday night with nine recommended action items for fiscal 2015, some of which added to the bottom line while others cut it.
First on the list was a recommendation to up the student activity fee to ensure there would be enough money in the account to pay for chaperone coverage for planned trips, adding $1,800 to the budget. Another $2,500 would provide stipends for club advisers, who volunteer their time in the first year and only get paid if the club pans out and they stick.
A $65,000 add-in should cover contractual obligations for next year, Connolly said, noting that negotiations with the Harvard Teachers Association are underway and expected to end soon.
Item four calls for $2,618 to buy new software for the school library.
Item five removes $2,500 for telephone repairs.
Another advisory cited assessment of teacher's anticipated salary level changes, which went up by $20,516 but won't impact the budget. That's good news, Connelly said, because the teachers' "voluntary notification" of upcoming salary hikes made it possible to offset an increase of $20,516 with money carried over from last year.
Item six advised tapping the district's Devens education contract to fund spending increases related to Devens students; specifically, $40,000 for added Special Education support services.
The committee recommended a $10,000 annual set-aside to comply with a relatively new state law that mandates funding transportation for homeless students. The cost for next year will be about $16,000, but it was half that amount last year, Connolly said.
On the minus side, $15,000 budgeted for a monitor for a particular student can be scratched, since the student no longer needs it.
On the plus side, the budget must absorb the $26,000 cost of a new student requiring Special Ed services who moved to town during the school year but before the April cut-off date that would have required the "sending community" to cover the student's tuition.
Other issues and concerns to be figured into the planning process include the work of other subgroups, Connolly said, such as the Technology Committee, which has recommended $362,000 worth of high tech upgrades.
But the new group needs some direction in terms of available funding as they consider future recommendations, the board agreed, not to limit their vision but as a reality check. The range, members decided, should be about $250,000, with a funding source identified.
At some point, Connolly introduced the notion of retaining cost savings in the school budget to meet an identified but as yet unrealized need, such as funding a new position. Of course, members agreed, that option would depend on whether the town could afford it.
The Wellness Committee, for example, which recommended adding a dedicated Health and Wellness component to the curriculum, might look to fund the new position with cost savings versus siphoning that money out, Chairman Susan Mary Redinger said, adding that it's an idea worth discussing with the Finance Committee.
Anyway, it's all in there, with a total of about $50,000 to add to the omnibus budget.
Asked if she considered any of the items just discussed to be "above level funding" per the Finance Committee's current budget-building scenario, Finance Director Lorraine Leonard said no. Not even clubs added to the roster this year. "There are always new clubs," she said. "That's just business as usual."