For third straight year, Lee school spending up less than 2 percent


LEE — For the third consecutive year, the local taxpayers' share of the Lee Public Schools budget could increase less than 2 percent.

Following a public hearing, the Lee School Committee on Tuesday is expected to vote on a $8.5 million school assessment up $155,000 — or 1.86 percent — compared to the current fiscal year spending plan.

The hearing is set for 7 p.m. at the start of the committee's regular meeting being held in the Lee Middle and High School cafeteria. If adopted, Annual town meeting representatives will vote on the education spending on May 12.

"We worked with the Finance Committee and [Town Administrator Robert] Nason to get it under 2 percent to satisfy the taxpayers and not compromise our programming," said interim school Superintendent Al Skrocki.

The proposed fiscal 2017 plan budget is actually close to $9.3 million, but after factoring in $715,000 in school choice revenue and another $61,000 in state circuit breaker money, the net impact to property owners is a shade over $8.5 million.

Skrocki noted the tax impact would have been higher were it not for savings of $78,000 in technology, $53,000 in vocational education and $17,420 in rental space for the central office. After nearly 15 years of leasing space at the former Lee Corporate Center on Route 102 and more recently offices from the College Internship Program near downtown Lee, the superintendent's office will be on school district turf. By the end of June, Skrocki and his small staff will move into middle school wing of Lee Middle and High School.

On the spending side, the single largest increase is $238,000 for out-of-district placement of an addition special education student.

In addition, the district is seeking town meeting approval for a special money article of $126,000 to replace the heating system boilers at the middle and high school's heating system.

Skrocki is proud of a lean budget for the third straight year that avoids teacher layoffs or staff reductions through attrition.

"The balance between the town and the needs of the school is always a challenge," he said.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.


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