Teacher Costs Up in Newport

Newport — A one-year teachers’ contract and a proposed $17.8 million school budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 will be among the warrant articles discussed at Tuesday’s Newport school district deliberative session.

If adopted by voters as recommended by the School Board at the deliberative session and approved at the March 12 school meeting vote, the budget would reduce the school tax rate an estimated 15 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

That decrease though would be cancelled by estimated tax rate increases for teachers and support staff contracts. The higher cost of teachers’ contract of $65,639 due to a half-step increase would add 16 cents. The higher $29,353 cost for support staff adds another 7 cents.

The School Board, but not the Budget Committee, is also recommending approval of three articles that would place $100,000 each in capital reserve funds for transportation, unanticipated special education and school renovation. The money would come from any surplus at the end of the current fiscal year.

Article 10 would establish a Field Purchase Capital Reserve fund and put $10,000 in the fund with the money to come from any budget surplus from the current fiscal year.

Business Manager Chuck Stuart said earlier this month that while proposed spending will remain at current levels, he was not as confident of the revenue figures from state and federal sources.

“There are more unknowns than I have seen in a long time at the state and federal levels,” Stuart said this week.

While Stuart is projecting a $400,000 increase in tuition his budget proposal includes reductions in catastrophic aid from the state and lower federal revenues.

Increases in health insurance and the district’s contribution to the state retirement system are being partially offset by five retirements at the end of this year. Three of the positions won’t be filled and two will be filled at a lower cost. Declining enrollment is part of the reason for the reduction in staff, school officials said.

The deliberative session on Tuesday begins at 6 p.m. at Newport High School.