A "slight cut" in the Board of Education's 2012-2013 budget is what Finance Board Chair Liz Mao says she'd favor.
Speaking at a Thursday meeting of the Board of Finance, Mao said, "I'm inclined to have a very slight cut in the [education] budget."
She was joined by board members James McLaughlin, Lorene Bora and Gwen Mogenson, all of whom expressed frustration at the annual increases in the Board of Education's budgets.
Mao said that when faced with a spending deficit of hundreds of thousands of dollars this year, education officials were able to find nearly all of the money they needed to plug the gap. The money "was found in what I would call non-overhead and student-impact money, and it was quickly found."
Mao added: "I don't like them cutting the budget where it impacts the students." But she added, "I do feel their might be some wiggle room in their [budget] numbers. There might be some accounts in there that might be overstated."
In December, town education officials said the education budget seemed to be on course for a $250,000 deficit if nothing was done to stop it. Schools Finance Director Richard Huot said Friday that the deficit has been cut down to $23,590, and he expected that by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, that the entire deficit would be wiped away.
Mao said that public comments during the budget process have shown more support for spending than for holding taxes down.
"I don't think there's the will to make dramatic cuts," she said.
The Board of Selectmen on Feb. 14 , up 6.4 percent and later sent it to the Board of Finance. The Board of Education on Feb. 14 up 5.3 percent, and also .
Meeting with members of the Board of Education and town education officials on Thursday, Board of Finance members said they were frustrated at the hikes in special education spending.
Mao and other board members asked schools Superintendent Stephen Falcone what his administration is doing to reduce special education spending hikes.
Falcone said one way education officials try to keep costs down is by trying to have special education students in the regular classrooms, whenever possible.
Mao suggested the district fight some demands from parents for more special education services by letting at least one case go to court after refusing a child's parents and having the parents sue the district to get it to pay for services.