This will be the last of my messages updating you on this incredibly long budget process this spring! The Rowley Town Meeting passed the budget last night, giving us our 2nd of 3 towns to approve our budget, and therefore making the May 16th budget final. That is obviously good news in that we have a spending plan, and the state will not need to step in to set an interim budget. However, I wanted to make sure that everyone is clear in regards to the changes that this approved budget requires. Unfortunately, we continue on a trend of decreasing services rather than restoring, and this financial challenge looks to continue in the coming years. As we close this very difficult budget year we are already looking to next year and how we might improve the process and overall outcomes.
The School Committee approved budgets three (3) times this year. The first Tentative Budget on February 14th included a roughly $3M increase over the current year, followed by a March 14th Final Budget that decreased that spending by approximately $750K. The March 14th budget reflected an increase over the current year of about $2.25M. It was this budget that went to Town Meetings and the ballot box, and ultimately wasn’t passed by our member towns. On May 16, 2018 the School Committee approved a further amended FY19 Budget that brought total assessments to our member towns down an additional $665K, and a total increase in spending over the current year of $1.79M. It is this budget that was approved last night.
Below is a listing of changes from existing spending this year assumed in this final budget.
- The cost of doing business, including all changes to personnel contracts, benefits, utilities, contracted services, supplies, and materials, including savings and efficiencies where possible
- Addition of improvements for student safety, including better access control logging for visitors, and the addition of school site video monitoring at all schools
- Addition of one (1.0) Special Education Teacher at Pine Grove School
- Addition of one (1.0) Special Education Teacher at Salisbury Elementary
- Significant increases to the tuitions for Out of District Special Education placements
- Reduction of the District Data Specialist (Technology Staff) from 1.0 to 0.5
- Reduction of the District Payroll Clerk from 1.0 to 0.5
- Reduction of 1.0 Middle School Foreign Language Teacher
- Reduction of 2.6 High School Classroom Teachers
- Reduction of 1.0 High School Reading Specialist
- Reduction of 1.0 Classroom Teacher at NES
- Reduction of 14.0 Instructional Assistants
- Reduction of 2.0 Custodians (1 half time reduced at each of 4 sites)
Certainly, we never want to find ourselves in this situation where we are reducing services and offerings rather than maintaining or increasing them. However, as we reviewed the required reduction in spending and the various ways we could account for the required reductions, we believe these changes will be the least impacting on student learning overall. While there will indeed be impacts felt, I am confident that we will continue to offer a top tier, high quality learning experience for our students. We have busy all spring, and will continue through the summer, to minimize the overall impact of these reductions.
If you have any questions about this process, or the changes it required, please don’t hesitate to reach out.