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WESTFORD — With a unanimous decision after a public hearing held Tuesday night, the Nashoba Valley Technical School Committee voted to approve a preliminary budget for fiscal 2013 that was not quite level-funded.

The new budget will come in at $10,694,089, slightly more than last year’s total of $10,285,561 and representing a 3.9 percent increase in spending.

Areas in the budget where spending increased the most include heating at 10 percent, employee insurance at 12 percent, and payroll at 11 percent.

The new budget represents a months-long effort to hold down spending in an economic climate that continues to be unfriendly to government planners.

The budget process began late last year with a message from Superintendent Judith Klimkiewicz, who warned committee members that cuts in spending might be necessary and could lead to layoffs.

But when asked last night, Klimkiewicz said there is no need for layoffs due to budgetary constraints. Instead, what manpower losses the district might suffer would be due to attrition or programs being cut due to insufficient student interest.

Of the total budget proposed for fiscal 2013, $6,550,715 will be covered by assessments to the district’s towns — Chelmsford, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend and Westford.

Total enrollment so far for the 2013 academic year is 581 students.

During the public hearing before last night’s vote, Klimkiewicz also included parallel figures showing what kind of changes would occur if Ayer joins the district.

In that case, each member town’s assessment would decrease slightly but with their minimum contributions remaining unchanged due to state law.

With a projected 144 students attending school in 2013, Chelmsford’s assessment is estimated at $2,044,633, an increase from 2012 of $203,767; with 33 students, Groton’s assessment will be $449,967, a decrease of $10,832; with 52 students, Littleton’s assessment will be $692,374, an increase of $71,952; with 122 students, Pepperell’s assessment will come to $1,108,278, an increase of $117,115; with 75 students, Shirley’s assessment will be $708,721, an increase of $112,907; with 102 students, Townsend’s assessment will be $922,086, a decrease of $29,114; with 53 students, Westford’s assessment will come to $624,656, a decrease of $72,121.

Tuesday night’s vote approving the preliminary budget freezes spending but allows further cuts to be made if school officials or the public request it. The next step in the budget-approval process is in the spring at town meetings.

Also last night, committee members voted to authorize Klimkiewicz to sign a contract with the Lowell Five Bank as part of the school’s education program in banking.

With the contract, Lowell Five will replace Jeanne d’Arc Credit Union on school grounds.

According to Klimkiewicz, when Jeanne D’Arc first signed on with the school, it had expected to open new branches in the Nashoba Valley. Since those plans changed, there were no local branches for students to conduct transactions.

“We’re very, very excited,” Klimkiewicz said about the change. “The footprint is lots better.”

Klimkiewicz said Lowell Five is much more amenable to adapting itself to the school’s educational aims and will expand the area of the bank’s on campus location.

“This was a great fit for us,” she said.

Klimkiewicz said Jeanne D’Arc is expected to move out in June, and Lowell Five would move in immediately after. Remodeling is expected to be concluded in time for the start of the new school year.