WESTFORD -- By unanimous vote, the Nashoba Valley Technical School Committee approved a preliminary school budget covering fiscal 2015 totaling $12,441,899 (including $200,000 to be reserved for the district's stabilization fund established last year).

In addition to local aid provided by the state, the budget includes $8,116,088 to be assessed to the district's member towns of Chelmsford, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend, Westford and Ayer, which officially joined the district last year.

The preliminary budget also included an increase in the towns' minimum contributions totaling $300,000, needed to help make ends meet.

The decision to ask for the increase was made at a School Committee meeting Jan. 28, in which members voted to increase overall spending for fiscal 2015 by $693,000, of which $393,000 would be covered by the district with $200,000 to be taken from the district's Efficiencies & Deficiencies account and $193,000 from school-choice funds.

Added to the budget only recently, and included in the $693,000 in spending, was $50,000 the School Committee had previously voted to deposit in a new Other Post Employment Benefit irrevocable trust-fund account.

Recommended by the district treasurer, the account was added as a new line item to the proposed budget, earmarking fund money that could not be used for anything other than retired employee health care. That amount will need to be approved at Town Meeting when they consider the annual budget.


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Should the numbers in the preliminary budget hold, Ayer, with 49 students attending the school in 2015, would be assessed at $583,059; Chelmsford with 173 students at $2,568,811; Groton with 39 students at $572,775; Littleton with 38 students at $534,493; Pepperell with 140 students at $1,412,198; Shirley with 69 students at $702,308; Townsend with 104 students at $1,034,072; and Westford with 55 students at $708,371.

The fiscal 2015 budget will also be aided by contributions from the state, which School Superintendent Judith Klimkiewicz said would be reduced from the previous year even though enrollment at Nashoba Valley will rise.

Enrollment at Nashoba will increase from 637 students in 2014 to 667 in 2015.

Klimkiewicz presented the fiscal 2015 budget in a public hearing Tuesday, just before a regular School Committee meeting in which members voted to approve it in its preliminary form.

With the 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.

The first Town Meeting will be Westford's March 22.

The budget for 2014 was $11,572,242.

Also at the same meeting, members voted to approve funding for the repair of portions of the school's roof for $2,429,264.

In a letter from Massachusetts School Building Authority Executive Director John McCarthy, the district was informed that its application for grant money was approved in the amount of $1,215,717 or 52 percent of the cost of repairing the roof.

With the School Committee's vote Tuesday, language for an article to appear on Town Meeting warrants of all member towns was also approved, spelling out the need to borrow an amount matching the MSBA grant.

Should residents approve the roof-repair plan, it would join other major projects at the high school that should see completion in 2014, including a new sports complex and dance studio.

Lined up for 2015 will be capital-improvement projects such as replacement of the large gym floor, re-lamping of interior and exterior lights, an upgrade to the mechanical system's computer, painting projects and an upgrade of the exterior sprinkler system.

Total cost for next year's projects will be $173,000.

Members also voted to authorize Klimkiewicz to examine the two lowest bids for installation of a new security camera, front-door security monitor, and access system for the school and to hire the one that best meets the requirements of the job.

Also, members recognized sophomore Sofina Russell of Ayer as athlete of the month. A member of the school's cheerleading team, Russell also plays softball while being enrolled in the culinary-arts program.