Students at Hildreth Elementary School showed school committee members Robert Sullebarger (left) and SusanMary Redinger how to draw fractals. It was a
Students at Hildreth Elementary School showed school committee members Robert Sullebarger (left) and SusanMary Redinger how to draw fractals. It was a short break before the committee dived into the details of the final budget. (NASHOBA PUBLISHING/Amelia Pak-Harvey)

HARVARD -- The final draft of the school district's budget shows a 1.05 percent increase from last year, with The Bromfield School receiving the highest fraction of the budget at about 33 percent.

Superintendent Joseph Connelly presented the final draft during an open hearing at the School Committee meeting on Monday night. The total proposed budget, at $12 million, is up $125,137 from last year's $11.8 million.

Connelly's own salary decreases by $15,000 to $150,000, while other salaries from central office employees are up two percent from cost of living adjustments and salary step increases.

One of the biggest increases for the central office is professional development, which Connelly said is necessary to keep pace with new educational demands.

"There has been a tremendous amount of new initiatives in the area of education and as a result we had a great need for additional professional development," Connelly said.

Professional development expenses not included in salary can include hiring consultants, buying materials and paying for workshops, he said. Professional development stipends included in salaries are used to pay teachers for developing curriculums during the summer. Total professional development would increase by about $28,000.

Teacher salaries at Hildreth Elementary would decrease by about two percent to $2.13 million, saving about $40,000.

"The past few years we've had a large turnover of staff at Hildreth Elementary School, and that shows up for the first time in the fiscal 2015 budget," Connelly said.


"So most of the reduction in salaries is because of staff changes."

Meanwhile, teachers at Bromfield School would receive a 2.9 percent increase for a total of $104,970.

The cost of textbooks, at $47,032, is usually paid for with small capital warrant articles, Connelly said. But next year it will be funded in-house.

"Because our budget was such a modest increase this year, we felt we could absorb the cost of the textbooks within the operating budget," he said.

Two of the proposed school warrant articles will likely be changed on town meeting floor. The $50,000 initially requested to resurface the front drive and parking lot at HES could be reduced to a $30,000 assessment that would include site planning, Chairman SusanMary Redinger said after the meeting.

Explaining the Capital Planning and Investment Committee's deliberations, School Committee member Keith Cheveralls said the money could go to a more "robust analysis" of the situation.

"The elementary school parking area probably lent itself to a much broader analysis of that traffic flow and safety concerns and the overall conditions," he said.

The CPIC and Finance Committee agreed that fixing it up was the right approach, he said, "but when we stood back and looked at things, we said maybe we shouldn't be going ahead and doing work if it's not really the right work."

Another warrant calling for a building assessment of the HES kindergarten wing might increase by $10,000, Redinger said after the meeting. The extra money for the assessment could explore the possibility of an additional 2,000-square-foot office space, she said.

The office space could make up for the offices that are lost if the committee chooses to relocate from Bromfield House, which would cost $686,000 to renovate.

But some students themselves brought relief from all of the financial talk when they showed school committee members how to draw fractals. Associate Principal Gretchen Henry explained the school's recent "Infinity Day," in which students learned about the concept of infinity.

"That was a nice change of pace for us," said committee member Robert Sullebarger toward the end of the meeting. "Something we don't get to do much."

Voters will decide on the final draft of the budget at the annual town meeting.

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