Oysterponds budget hits tax cap — expanded pre-K program included

04/14/2016 12:00 PM |

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The Oysterponds Board of Education has adopted a nearly $5.6 million budget for next school year that covers increases in pre-K and other educational programs, as well as professional development.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the school board adopted superintendent Richard Malone’s tentative spending plan, which carries a 1.08 percent spending increase over last year’s budget. Mr. Malone described it as the smallest budget increase the district has proposed over the last three years.

Additionally, the school plans to stay under the tax cap and is proposing increasing the tax levy by 1.37 percent, or about $69,000, superintendent Richard Malone said. This is the highest tax levy limit percentage the state allowed the district this year.

District clerk Marion Hughes said the budget proposal includes an estimated tax increase of $5.10 per every $1,000 of assessed home value for taxpayers. For an average home assessed at $6,000, she said taxes are expected to increase by $30.60 annually.

Among the proposed spending increases is the district’s plan to expand its pre-K program in 2016-17 .

Currently, the pre-k program offers a half-day program for 4-year-olds. If voters approve the budget, the program will also offer a half-day program for 3-year-olds and a full-day program for four-year old students, Ms. Hughes said.

“We really had a request from the community to expand the program because it’s so good,” she said.

In addition, the district implemented a pilot program this year with about 20 students that creates specific target goals for each child to determine which way they learn best — either through auditory, visual or kinesthetic movement lessons.

Next school year, the district plans to use that model for all 80 students in the elementary school.

“It makes programming more dynamic, more interesting and really captures the kids attention,” school board president Dorothy-Dean Thomas said of the program. “Each child has their own program — their own target goals and it addresses their strengths and weakness and it takes a more narrative approach to assessment for the child. It’s very exciting.”

Ms. Hughes added that the school is continuing it’s enrichment program, Reach for the Stars, and introducing new field trips for the program to allow for “learning beyond the school walls.”

The district is also planning to work on keeping teachers up to date with new technologies and teaching methods that they could implement in the classroom. This comes with replacing some outdated SMARTboards and laptops, Ms. Hughes said.

The school board will hold a public hearing to discuss the proposed spending plan May 3. The budget vote is May 17.

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Photo: Superintendent Richard Malone and Board of Education president Dorothy-Dean Thomas at Tuesday’s school board meeting. (Credit: Nicole Smith)

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