The 1.95% increase refers to our projected expenses in the general fund for next year. The majority of the general fund increase is due to health insurance premiums (27% of the budget) and salary and wage increases (56% of the budget). The health insurance benefit is a statewide agreement negotiated for all school employees in every district across the state.
We have had to absorb larger than usual increases due to this agreement over the last two years, as well as the continued increase in health insurance premiums overall. These amounts are the net results after we factor in the reductions due to attrition such as people moving on, retirements, younger teachers joining the district, and actual benefit plan options. These two items are part of negotiated contracts and are typically the main reason any school budget goes up, and we have little or no control over either! This is different from the per-pupil increase (see question below) you’ll see on the ballot, which is 5.99%. It is very important to know that your education taxes are not going up 5.99%! Even with the 1.95% increase in expenses, our education taxes are going down.
Two big-ticket items we do have control over however are the hiring of staff and the development of new programs and services. Both are very minimal this year! A few examples that have been added include fairly compensating all athletic assistant coaches ($95,500 total), field trip transportation costs for both BTMES and BCEMS ($50,000 total), and a much-needed math interventionist at BTMES ($75,000).
It's important to note that we have also maximized ESSER Grants to support increasing essential staffing in the areas of academic intervention, counseling, and behavioral support during the pandemic. These essential positions are not paid for through the general fund by our taxpayers.