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SHIRLEY — On the heels of a request for a $1-million-plus increase in the fiscal year 2008 budget, the School Committee has asked interim Superintendent of Schools Malcolm “Mac” Reid to prepare a level-service budget to be submitted separate from the increased one.

At a public hearing held in the first week of January, Reid announced staff and program additions he’d like for the coming school year.

Backed by the schools’ principals, special education director and early childhood coordinator, and several others, Reid sought the committee’s approval for five new teachers: three at Shirley Middle School, one at Lura A. White School and a physical education instructor to be shared between the schools. The schools have also requested two full-time technology lab assistants.

But just the base budget, if it’s funded at level service, means a 6-percent increase each year, committee member Robert Schuler said during the committee’s Jan. 10 meeting. Standard percentage increases in salaries and wages, transportation cost increases and educational contracts with other districts to educate the town’s high-school students add up to a $487,657 budget increase, he said.

One problem with approving a budget nearly $550,000 above that is that the new governor campaigned on increased local aid, said Schuler, but he’s yet to announce his plans for the coming fiscal year.

“Right now we’re kind of shooting in the dark,” he said. “We don’t know what the revenues are going to be.”

Schuler suggested the committee rely on state Rep. James Eldridge and Sen. Pamela Resor, both D-Acton, to feed members the latest news from the Statehouse regarding the budget.

“What we’d like to do is offer a little bit more this year,” said Schuler, and add curriculum that’s been eliminated or deemed necessary over the past several years.

The administration has also asked for additional support for technology, a foreign language curriculum for seventh- and eighth-graders, increased support staff hours, and updated textbooks and study materials, he said.

“These are the things that we’d like to think about going forward,” said Schuler. “There are some things that we feel the district really needs.”

However, the committee asked Reid to rehash the budget to reflect level-service funding and present the requests separately.

Afterward, the committee will determine whether new programming and staff can be funded, said committee Chairman Paul Wilson.

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