There are a few issues Brunswick residents should know about the new 2018-19 proposed school budget. There are 441 employees in it, and I will compare the contract teacher salaries from last year with the projected for the coming year. Keep in mind that these figures do not include the step, stipend, sick or annual days, or total vacation time that is three months. They also don’t include ed techs, or substitute teachers.

In 2017-18, the proposed budget was $14,202,824 for just the 218 classroom contract teachers. There were 70 teachers alone that had a base salary of between $70K to $77K-plus. The proposed 2018-19 budget is now $15,976,481 for 238 contract classroom teachers with 105 of them earning a base salary of between $70K to $78K-plus. This is an increase of $1,202,824 in salaries just for these 238 teachers. That is an eye opener folks.

In Brunswick, a 1 percent increase in property taxes this year equates to $425K, so just for the increase in 238 teacher salaries this year means a tax increase of almost 3 percent.

Dental insurance is another issue that needs to be addressed. If the municipal employees want dental insurance, they pay 100 percent for it. If school employees want dental insurance, we taxpayers pay 100 percent of the cost. This needs to be changed so they pay for their own coverage.

Now for employee health insurance in the new proposed school budget:

Last year the projected Brunswick taxpayer’s 85 percent share of school employee health insurance was $5,482,314. The projection for this next year will cost the taxpayers $6,085,368. That is an increase of $603,054, so we have almost another 1.5 percent property tax increase.

Teacher salary and all employee health insurance increases combined are now at 4.5 percent, give or take. Keep in mind that these figures are all projected from paperwork received from the school business manager, so they are all subject to change.

New teacher contract negotiations will be in the works soon. It is time that all school employees pay more than their 15 percent of the health-care cost, and they also need to pay 100 percent for their dental cost. The health-care cost can be changed from the 15/85 percent split, but the residents need to contact the superintendent, school board, as well as the town manager and council members and ask them to make the change happen.

The same 15/85 percent split also includes the municipal employee health insurance cost to the taxpayers. It may take an Act of Congress to get it changed folks, but it can be done. The more residents that complain, the better chance we have to make it happen.

Another issue in the proposed budget is with the cost of the four schools’ postage in the amount of $21,380. With all notifications from the schools, including report cards are either by phone, email, or on Facebook, I feel this amount is way out of line.

There will be a school budget presentation on March 21 in the Town Council Chambers at 6:30 p.m. and a public forum on March 28 , so time is of the essence to voice your feelings to the school board. Please show up and speak.

Jean Powers

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