School Superintendent Pat Charles told members of the Board of Education Budget Committee that she and her staff had trimmed her original 9% budget increase projection to 7.5%.
"It's a number that we're not comfortable that the city is willing to handle," Charles said.
Committee chair, Chris Drake speculated that an increase in the 3-4% range would be a more realistic request, but not one that would be assured to pass review at the city.
Holding up the line item 2016-2017 budget, Drake said: "We've got to go through this and find $2.8 million to cut."
At 7.5%, the increase over last year's budget would be $5,861,658.
Charles and her staff found savings in fuel costs, savings in dental and life insurance premiums as well as savings in ongoing lease agreements with school vendors. In addition, Charles indicated that salaries would be budgeted at 99% anticipating savings in the salary line through attrition.
Charles asked the assembled members, including Drake, Linda Sczykowicz, Board chair Vinnie Loffredo and attending member Franca Biales if there were specific areas she should focus on for additional cuts. Budget committee member Deborah Cain was not in attendance.
"It's at the point where to make the number we'll have to not spend money on something you've spent money on last year," Drake said.
The board members discussed the potential savings that redistricting could achieve noting that leveling class size at the elementary level would allow for savings in staff, but that redistricting had been a source of controversy in the community.
Loffredo asked Charles to consider the effect ending contracts for food services and facilities management by Sodexho might achieve.
The board, as a whole, will discuss the budget, and budget goals at Tuesday's meeting of the entire board.