Increased costs have fueled the jump in the new proposed budget.

WALES – School officials here have approved a $1,630,735 proposed operating budget. That marks a 3.9 percent increase from the current $1,569,562 operating budget, said Superintendent Paul Malinski.

A 10 percent increase in health insurance costs, a projected 25 percent increase in property and casualty insurance and, among other things, a 90.1 percent increase in oil costs have fueled the jump from the current budget to the new proposed budget.

Property and casualty insurance has shot up, because insurers now consider schools potential terrorist targets in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The proposed budget also eliminates one special education teacher’s job and one special education aide’s job.

Prior to the approval of the proposed operating budget recently, principal Linda Titus told School Committee members that kindergarten registration so far this year has doubled from a typical level of 12 students to 24 students. So she asked the committee to fund a new regular ed-tech position for kindergarten.

“We really are going to need some help,” Titus said.

School committee members responded by voting to fund the ed-tech position for kindergarten. The new kindergarten ed-tech will be paid approximately $8.15 an hour at 35 hours a week, Malinski said.

When towns see growth, they reap the benefits of more tax revenue in the short-term but then have to deal with more students in the long-term, he said.

“We have to plan and figure out what to do (for future growth),” Malinski said.

Titus said many students enter kindergarten unprepared, because Wales lacks a headstart or affordable nursery schools. She said the community needs a pre-school program.

School Committee Chairman Greg Johnson, though, said he has seen studies showing that after three years in school students lacking a pre-school education catch up to peers who had one.

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