Saturday Budget Meeting Considered by School Board

The School Board is considering holding one of its budget workshops on a Saturday.
Superintendent Nathan Greenberg told the board at its May 21 meeting that he had provided members with two schedules for budget sessions. “The first is the traditional one, and the area that I’d like you to look at starts in November and runs through early December, and that has to do with our budget presentation,” he said.

“We always present the budget right before Thanksgiving because we know you’re looking for an excuse to get away from your family for a while,” Greenberg joked. He said regular budget meetings would be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Dec. 5, 12, 17, and 19, and noted that generally a final budget workshop “pulling it all together” would be held Jan. 9.

“The second schedule was a slight alteration, and that was going to a Saturday budget workshop, which would be Dec. 7,” he said. “On the 7th we’d cover Personnel and Curriculum, Library, Media and depending where that had taken us, we might be able to cover Special Education and the four elementary schools, Moose Hill, Matthew Thornton, North School and South School.”

Otherwise those latter areas would be discussed Dec. 12. Greenberg said that he was suggesting the Saturday session to “cut down on the nights out. Of course it is up to the board’s discretion as to what you want to do, so we thought we’d offer you two versions,” Greenberg said.

Board chair Nancy Hendricks asked the administrators if there were holiday concerts or conflicts with the Dec. 7 date and the administrators said holiday concerts and Winter Wonderland were scheduled that day.

Hendricks said there were performances at the middle school and that might be a problem for her.
Greenberg said there were very few Saturdays open, as the Town Council has budget discussions at the same time.

“It’s fine with us to have it in the evening, but we thought we’d offer it to you as an option,” Greenberg said. “My thought is to hold the Saturday open and when we get close to it in November, then we can have a discussion on whether or not we need the Saturday,” board member John Laferriere said.

Board member Leitha Reilly had a different take on it. “I see that the second alternative was essentially swapping a weeknight for a Saturday. Is there a way you could swap two weeknights for one Saturday?” Reilly asked.

Greenberg said the schedule was actually a weeknight and a half for a Saturday. “What we tried to do was front end load it so that you’ll see that the Saturday was about one and a half days worth of stuff,” Greenberg said.

He said they could go with the traditional schedule and take Laferriere’s recommendation and if things change or a Saturday opens that doesn’t conflict with schedules at the schools, they could do it then.

Board member John Robinson said it was his preference to do the Saturday session because he would like to get through the topics scheduled for that day in one “block” and not be “fighting the clock.”

“I think they are where a huge amount of our spending goes, and I think taking the time to have a coherent and thorough discussion of it is appropriate,” Robinson said. Greenberg said he would look to see if a different Saturday would be available.

A motion was made by Laferriere to keep the traditional calendar but with the option of keeping a Saturday session open. Seconded by Reilly, the motion passed unanimously.

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