GET BREAKING NEWS IN YOUR BROWSER. CLICK HERE TO TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS.

X

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

AREA — As area school administrators struggle to formulate budgets for the upcoming fiscal year, officials at the Nashoba Valley Technical High School said that they feel comfortable with how their own budget is shaping up.

“Balancing the budget is like keeping track of a bouncing ball,” Superintendent Judith Klimkiewicz said at a meeting of the School Committee held last Tuesday night.

Despite a continuing economic downturn and warnings to expect fewer dollars from the state, Klimkiewicz said the school would meet its obligations to every student in the coming year, and do so with a level-funded budget while maintaining existing programs.

Even as Nashoba Tech experiences annual enrollment growth of between 7 percent and 13 percent, she predicted there would be no decline in the quality of education students have come to expect from the school.

School infrastructure is in “excellent condition” and more ready than ever to meet the expectations of an increasingly savvy student body, she noted. Recent improvements include a new building addition, a new music program and new classroom technology such as recently installed LCD projectors and “smart boards.”

“We’re still a great school,” Klimkiewicz insisted. “We’ll be fine.”

“We just have to watch what we’re doing,” added School Committee Chairman Kevin McKenzie.

Klimkiewicz said Tuesday night that a final draft of the proposed fiscal year 2010 school operating budget was nearing completion and that she expected to have it ready for formal presentation early in the new year.

The superintendent characterized the budget as essentially level-funded, coming in with a bottom line not much different than the 2009 figure of $9.9 million, which itself was an increase over FY2008 of 5.9 percent.

Klimkiewicz said she expected to see about $100,000 in new spending but hoped the aggressive pursuit of grants and other outside sources of funding would ameliorate that increase. Also helping to keep costs down, she said, were previously negotiated contracts that will help keep the utility costs.

The superintendent praised the school’s unions not only for their commitment to quality education but also for an agreement that allows Nashoba to pay only 75 percent of members’ health care costs.

Klimkiewicz said she has received warnings from legislative leaders that local aid will probably be less than in the past.

As a result, the superintendent said she has been warned of cuts in the state’s Chapter 70 aid to schools, of up to 10 percent, making it difficult for any school to maintain current services without a corresponding increase in local support.

Good news, however, came in the form of Nashoba Tech’s Excess & Deficiencies (or “Free Cash”) account, which the state verified as containing $112,000 over the limit of 5 percent of a school’s total budget, as allowed by law.

Klimkiewicz told the School Committee on Tuesday night that the overage would be redistributed to its member towns in the form of lowered assessments.