School boards and superintendents spend months negotiating contracts, plan out equipment replacement over decades and slowly build programs, all in the interest of keeping costs – and budget increases – as low as possible.
But the Farmington Board of Education is facing a large chunk of its proposed budget increase that could not have been foreseen and still remains to be calculated: safety and security.
Like many districts, Farmington began taking stock of its schools' safety immediately following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown in December. Superintendent Kathleen Greider worked with Farmington Police Chief Paul Melanson to increase security in the days following the attack.
But since one hadn’t been done for a few years, the district solicited an audit of its safety and security measures, to be done by an outside expert along with the Farmington Police Department. Greider said the audit should be completed and presented to the Board of Education in May or June of this year.
Since the presentation will fall well after budgets have been set, Greider built in money to the 2013-14 budget for any recommendations that will come out of the audit. She included $200,000 as a separate project in the operating budget and $75,000 in the capital budget.
“It’s hard to put a number on it,” Greider said. “We’ve seen other districts and what they’re recommending. We don’t have a crystal ball … we’re making our best estimate at this point.”
In Avon, the town manager recommended $250,000 for school security measures, according to Avon Patch. Click on the link to see a list of recommended equipment.
The $200,000 has to be included in the schools’ operating budget in order to ensure the money is available but school board members said it also inflates the proposed budget increase.
Without the safety and security money, the superintendent’s request would be just 2.16 percent increase over 2012-13.