GROTON -- By unanimous vote, members of the Nashoba Valley Technical School Committee approved a preliminary school budget covering fiscal 2014 totaling $11,722,242 (including $200,000 to be reserved for the district's newly established stabilization fund).

In addition to local aid money provided by the state, the budget includes a total of $7,469,524 to be assessed to the district's member towns of Chelmsford, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend, Westford, and new member Ayer as their share of the cost.

The preliminary budget also included an extra $300,000 above the towns' minimum contributions needed to make ends meet.

The decision to ask for the increase was made at a School Committee meeting held Jan. 29 in which members voted to increase overall spending for fiscal 2014 by $650,000 of which $350,000 would be covered by the district.

Should the numbers in the preliminary budget hold, Ayer, with 53 students to attend Nashoba Valley in fiscal 2014, would be assessed at $600,928; Chelmsford with 154 students, would be assessed at $2,187,180; Groton with 33 students, would be assessed at $468,592; Littleton with 51 students, would be assessed at $689,712; Pepperell with 116 students, would be assessed at $1,140,639; Shirley with 71 students, would be assessed at $715,441; Townsend with 102 students, would be assessed at $703,202; and Westford with 57 students, would be assessed at $703,202.


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The fiscal 2014 budget will also be aided by contributions from the state for an estimated total of $422,903 based on the Gov. Deval Patrick's recently submitted budget.

Klimkiewicz however, expressed caution in relying on the governor's overly rosy budget numbers based as they were on the presumption that a recently proposed hike in the state's income tax would be approved by the legislature.

The vote approving the preliminary budget was taken at the committee's meeting of Feb. 5 immediately following a public hearing at which school superintendent Judith Klimkiewicz gave a presentation outlining the fiscal 2014 budget.

The superintendent's presentation however, was led off by the results of a new study by the Pioneer Institute that found tech schools such as Nashoba had a superior retention rate of students graduating than regular comprehensive high schools.

In fact, said Klimkiewicz, Nashoba Valley Tech has had "zero" drop outs since 2009 and has had top scores in the state's MCAS testing program as well as in SATs.

Expressing pride in that record, the superintendent went on to brief School Committee members about ongoing improvements at Nashoba including a new outdoor sports complex and dance studio scheduled to come on line over the next year.

"I think it covers everything," said committee vice-chairman Jennifer Rhodes of the fiscal 2014 budget. "It is well done and carefully thought out with the best interests of all our member towns."

With the Jan. 5 vote, school officials will begin a round of visits with member towns' fiscal teams to brief them on the proposed budget before moving on to the various town meetings at which residents will have the final say.

"The preliminary budget is fair and reasonable and I think it will be accepted by the towns," predicted Rhodes. "I've never seen a budget so well controlled from any other school district."

Also at the committee's Jan. 5 meeting, members were:

-- Introduced to student of the month Rebecca Updyke of Townsend. A senior, Updyke is currently enrolled in the school's health program and intends to pursue a career in psychiatric nursing after graduation.

-- Learned that the school's robotics team came in 19th out of 54 at regional competitions held last year in Boston. For the 2013 competition to be held in March, the team has recruited 18 mostly new members and must design and build a robot that, among other things, must learn how to climb a wall.