By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Unlike some other communities, North Andover is very unlikely to have a budget battle between the schools and the selectmen this year.
Town Manager Andrew Maylor said he would allow a 4 percent increase in all departments this year and that is exactly the spending hike Superintendent Kevin Hutchinson recommended to the School Committee last night.
Hutchinson’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that will begin July 1 is $41,457,661. The spending plan for the current fiscal year is $39,863,136.
While clearly education leaders would like to have more money for their mission, Hutchinson said that with this budget, he wants to get all of the district’s schools to Level 1 status. Other goals include not having more than 29 students in any class, improving technology, providing adequate special education while containing costs and retaining necessary teaching positions.
“We can’t just keep adding positions,” Hutchinson said.
The School Committee did not take any action on the proposed budget last night. Before acting on the spending plan, the committee will hear presentations on various programs Wednesday night.
The committee will deliberate on the budget Jan. 23, then hold a public hearing Jan. 30.
School Committee Chairman Stanley Limpert said the board is expected to vote on the budget Feb. 13. The annual Town Meeting in May will have the final word on spending for the schools and other departments.
In recent years, North Andover has had fiscal harmony, with the selectmen, School Committee and Finance Committee going before Town Meeting in a spirit of cooperation. There have been clashes in the past, however, such as a few years ago when a proposal to charge a trash fee drew hundreds of residents to a special Town Meeting.