WASHINGTON — The Region 12 Board of Education cut $200,000 from the 2016-17 budget this week, reducing planned spending to $21.36 million.

The reduction passed by a vote of 5-0, with 2 abstaining. It was accomplished by taking $200,000 from the capital reserve fund to help pay for $250,000 in renovations in the teacher-student work area at Shepaug Valley School, instead of from tax revenues.

“This will bring the budget down by 1 percent,” said board member Valerie Andersen. “The fact that Washington’s share of the 2016-17 budget will be up $500,000 dictates that we should take some of the pressure off of the tax burden.”

Bridgewater resident Ed Wainright and Bridgewater First Selectman Curtis Read urged the board during the public hearing on the budget to take the cost of renovations from the reserve.

“The money saved in the budget could be used to reinstate a full-time Spanish teacher,” Read said. “With a drop in student population by 39 students anticipated next school year, I think seeing the budget drop a bit would go a long way toward seeing it pass.”

Wainright noted that the reserve has a $467,000 balance at this time, with more money earmarked for deposit in the present budget year. Tapping that fund for the renovation project is “common sense,” Wainright said.

The budget referendum date was set for May 10, when polls will be open in all three Region 12 towns — Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington.

Before the public hearing Wednesday, Facilities Director Don O’Leary and Shepaug Valley principal Kim Gallo led residents on a tour of the teacher-student work area. The 8,000-square foot room would get new or improved paint, carpeting, furniture, shelving, filing cabinets and LED lighting. O’Leary said the area was last upgraded in the 1970s.

The area will be divided into 31 work stations and dedicated storage areas. The high school teachers use the work area as storage space, a place for meeting with students or other teachers and to eat lunch.

The small offices of the School Resource Officer and School Psychologist off of the work area will also be renovated.

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