DANVERS — Superintendent Lisa Dana is proposing a $33.4 million school budget next year, an increase of 4 percent over this year.
Most of the $1.3 million increase — nearly $1.1 million of it — would go to pay raises for teachers, administrators and other staff. Another $270,000 would be used to buy new textbooks, purchases that were deferred during tighter budget years.
The budget reflects priorities spelled out in the last year of the school's five-year strategic plan, putting an emphasis on technology, student support, and purchase of textbooks and supplies.
A budget hearing, postponed last Wednesday because of the snowstorm, will be held this Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Toomey Room at Town Hall. The School Committee is scheduled to vote on the budget March 12.
School Committee Chairman Eric Crane said the budget reflects the struggle the schools face every year, given "a limited window of revenue to do a lot of things."
The budget adds a technology integration specialist ($60,000) to help teachers and staff use the state-of-the-art technology at the new Danvers High.
It also adds a team chairman ($53,000) in special education to run meetings when students are initially evaluated.
This position will free up school psychologists to focus on counseling, writing reports and consulting with teachers.
"That is one that can save us money in the coming years," Crane said, adding that it will provide consistency in the special education process.
The costs would be offset by the reduction of an elementary teacher position due to enrollment changes.
The budget also includes money for a Skillful Teacher instruction program for classroom teachers, a program that has been funded the past three years by a grant that is now expiring.
The budget cements the proposal to keep Assistant Superintendent Susan Ambrozavitch serving as the high school principal, a job she did last year and this year during construction at Danvers High.
Ambrozavitch would become the assistant superintendent for personnel, as well as the Danvers High principal, at a salary of $145,000.
Her responsibilities for curriculum and instruction will be shifted to a K-12 curriculum coordinator, a new position.
Mary Wermers, now the middle school curriculum coordinator, will take on both jobs for a salary of $107,000.
Student fees are also going up. The bus fee will go up an additional $20 from $160 to $180. Athletic fees are going up $5 to pay to staff the new wellness center at the high school, and a $17 fee hike is proposed for fine arts activities.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DanverSalemNews.