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By Anne O’Connor


TOWNSEND — North Middlesex passed a budget for fiscal year 2017, but more changes will likely be coming.

The regional school district can lower the amount approved on March 14, said School Committee Chairwoman Randee Rusch, but it will not be able to raise the budget.

“We don’t have solid numbers,” said Superintendent Joan Landers The district is still waiting for insurance costs and state aid amounts.

The district will continue to monitor the state numbers, but may not have them until July, said Business Administrator Nancy Haines.

The budget was broken into three sections. The operating budget is $44,539,659.38. Transportation is $3,109,700. Debt service comes in at $1,144,942,62.

The district plans to use $350,000 from its excess and deficiency account.

Since last week, Landers said she has reduced the the operating budget by $527,214. The reductions included three-and-a-half staff positions, cuts to the plant and facility budget, technology items, and a lower amount for benefits based on current retiree lists.

An additional $70,000 in revenues was identified. In addition to using $50,000 more from excess and deficiency than was planned, the district may see an additional $20,000 in Medicaid reimbursement.

Landers left a new position, a school resource officer at $80,000, in the budget, along with $65,000 to increase bandwidth.

People don’t know what a school resource officer does, said Anne Adams, a Pepperell representative. She would like to find out more about what they do.

Others agreed and both Landers and Rusch agreed to reach out to an officer in a different district to come in and talk with the committee.

The committee passed the budget unanimously.

They were also unanimous in voting to approve a planned $10 million bond for the high school building project. There was no discussion.

Only one member voted against raising the school lunch price by ten cents for the next school year.

The elementary school lunch will cost $2.65. Middle school and high school lunches will be $2.90. The increase is an additional $17 per student over the course of the school year, said Townsend member Susan Robbins.

Vice Chairman Will Hackler voted against the increase. He said he would rather see the cost go up to an even $3.00.

Lunch costs could change.

The food service contract will go out for a request for proposal next year, Haines said. Increases to the minimum wage might mean the committee will need to revisit the price in the near future.

Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter and Tout @a1oconnor.