The Salem Municipal Budget Committee was presented Wednesday with a 2013-2014 Salem School District budget up 2.68 percent over the current year.
The increase for the budget, as reviewed by the Salem School Board, will likely be reduced to a 2.06 percent after more anticipated state adequacy funds are factored into the budget.
Overall, the general fund budget presented for 2013-2014 is now $58.8 million, up from the present year total of $57.1 million.
The majority of the increases in the budget presented Wednesday night come from salaries, benefits and maintenance.
SAU 57 Superintendent Dr. Michael Delahanty explained that over $1.4 million of that increase includes an astronomical hike in state retirement costs to the tune of $785,620.
The district also hopes to spend an additional $477,225 on construction services this year. That includes planning for possible renovations at Salem High School as well as capital projects recommended by a recent audit, according to Delahanty.
Another additional $179,000 is proposed for new software and technology replacements.
The budget is seeing about $631,000 in savings over the present year, including a $32,137 decrease in health insurance, $122,703 less for electricity costs and an estimate of nearly $448,200 less for special education tuition.
Delahanty explained Salem's cost-per-pupil is $10,427, which is less than the state average of $12,775.
"We provide a good product at a very reasonable cost," Delahanty said.
Among the new proposed positions and items supported by the School Board includes: a new K-8 math director (to be paid with federal Title II program funding); an elementary school reading specialist; a supervisor at the high school to oversee the chemicals stored at the school; a new program for athletics concussion testing (the state has mandated districts to come up with plans to address concussions for student-athletes); an after-school homework program; and costs to be part of a children's dental network that provides dental services to students in need.
Currently, the budget includes state adequacy funding in the amount of $5.3 million. Delahanty said State Sen. Chuck Morse of Salem has "assured" him the district will in fact receive an additional $300,000, which will lower the overall increase in the budget pending School Board endorsement.
With the Budget Committee expected to take their final votes on the budget next Thursday, Dec. 13, the committee spent nearly four hours Wednesday night discussing the budget.
Committee members expressed concerns over the additional programs, such as the dental network, as well as capital improvements and future renovations planning costs.
Delahanty said there are still no finalized plans for a proposed renovation bond for the 2013 ballot. Such a plan will likely involve a combination of work on the three elementary schools yet to be renovated (Fisk, Soule and Haigh).
While the future of Haigh remains a topic of discussion, School Board member Michael Carney, Jr., reiterated to the committee there are no plans to close Haigh.
The committee will meet again tonight to continue discussing the budget.