Preliminary school budget up slightly for Tremont

TREMONT — More attention to the school’s library, including an inventory upgrade, is one of the larger increases in the proposed fiscal year 2020 school budget.

Teacher salaries are set to increase 6.81 percent district wide this year due to negotiated contracts approved in the fall. The district will not have clear numbers on health insurance premiums until later in the spring. These two budget items will make up the lion’s share of the increase for Tremont’s school FY20 budget that is expected to increase 0.23 percent from last year’s budget of $3,038,055 to $3,044,987.

There are no other great asks, according to Principal Jandrea True.

“Our library needs some TLC,” she said in a recent interview. “There’s a bump in our budget for the library.”

In the library portion of the budget, that bump is about $32,000. It includes a staff increase to a half-time position, a 100 percent increase in the budget for new books from $3,000 to $6,000 and a nearly 100 percent increase for supplies from $600 to $1,100.

During a recent inventory of the school’s books within the library, staff realized most of the books were more than 30 years old. Even in the age of internet research, school staff want to continue to use the library as a resource for students. To that end, it is imperative that students have information available that is relevant, True explained.

“They need to have accurate and current information,” she said about resources provided for students.

There is an increased need for speech therapy at the school, but not enough for a full-time position. Currently, a speech therapist works with students at the school two days a week.

“Ideally, we’d be looking at three days per week,” said True about the proposed 60 percent position.

Speech therapy is a contracted service at the school, as it is in most of the elementary schools within the district. School officials do their best to collaborate and provide a full-time schedule for a therapist, but it can be difficult depending on needs, according to True.

Although there has been discussion throughout the district to install more security cameras inside and outside school buildings, as well as inside or on school buses, there are no immediate plans for additional cameras at Tremont, said True.

There are no major building projects in the proposed budget but True said the school wants to prepare for upcoming expenses and system upgrades by setting funds aside.

“I’d rather think proactively to reduce the impact on taxpayers,” said True. “It’s nice to see we don’t have any huge needs this year.”

Paving will be needed around the school, at some point in the future, but the approach needs to be thought out to maximize efficiency and student safety, True said. It will likely be done in sections around the school property.

One area she highlighted was the back parking lot of the school but it isn’t clear yet how that space will be affected by the bridge construction project that will encroach upon the edge of the lot. An alternative route during the Clark Bridge expansion is expected to pass through the grass patch next to the paved area of that lot.

“We have a much smaller paving project we might try to do this year,” said True. “We would need to prioritize what happens first.”

Tremont School Committee next meets today, Thursday, Jan. 10 at 4 to review the budget and again on Feb. 14.

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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