School Comm. Cuts Requested Budget

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
By John Lynds

The Winthrop School Committee (WSC) approved a budget slightly less than what was proposed by the School Department (WSD).

At the last WSC meeting, members voted to approve a $17,735,037. WPS had asked for a budget of $18,573,789, which would have been a $1.9 million increase from last year.

“This is the budget that the WSC thought we could move forward with as it goes to the Town Manger,” said Superintendent of Schools John Macero. “We anticipate a few more reductions and when we get the final figures we’ll work with the budget subcommittees and Town Council on the final budget.”

Macero said the budget continues to take into consideration the recent trends of theFoundation Budget and Net School Spending for Winthrop.

“In 2012, 2013, 2014 and moving forward to 2015, Winthrop is projected to receive additional increases in Chapter 70 funding due to continuing increased enrollment as well as increased Free and Reduced students,” he said. “This current year our Free and Reduced Students town wide has increased to 38 %. Students who are on Free and Reduced increase the Chapter 70 formula for Winthrop depending on the grade level of the students. Elementary students increase the formula by $3600 per student and secondary students increase by $1800 per student. The implications of this will also increase the required net school spending responsibility of the Town.”

The Level Service Budget of $17, 211, 965.50 represents a status quo budget and will keep all services that are current remaining. All school contracts will increase by 2.25% and in addition steps and lanes in those contracts will increase our current budget by an additional 1.67%. Therefore in order to remain at level service, the schools would need a 3.92 % or $648,965.00 increase from Fiscal 14. The Total 2015 budget request of $17, 735, 037.00 is an increase of 7.1% which totals in actual dollars of $1,172, 037.

“This amount allows us to move Winthrop in a positive direction for all educational needs,” said Macero. “When creating a budget with additional requests, all schools through their school site council were to create a needs assessment and submit to the Superintendent the reasons why the positions are needed and the cost implications. The $17,735.037.00, proposal represents all requests put forward by the individual schools, athletics, maintenance and technology as a whole.”

One way the budget could be reduced, explained Macero was decreasing Special Education tuition costs. Fully fund the Tuition line to the projected FY15 total tuition costs $1,221,662.

“This line item can be decreased based on prepayments from Circuit Breaker,” he said.

The state’s Special Education Circuit Breaker program reimburses local school districts for a portion of their costs for educating severely high-needs special education students. The threshold for eligibility is tied to four times the state average foundation budget per pupil as calculated under the Chapter 70 education funding law.

Macero said $50,000 was also cut from the Athletics budget. Macero said the $50,000 could be made up through game day ticket sales and admissions costs for athletic events while still keeping user fees free for students.

“By eliminating user fees our students can continue to play sports that is vital to their acceptance in college. Athletics as well as activities should be a continuance of the school day and no child should be made to pay to participate,” said Macero. “The only item we would continue to charge would be for tickets to enter Football, Girls and Boys, Hockey and Basketball. Our projected income would be $40,000 as well as an additional $10,000 from Coke vending and other miscellaneous items geared towards athletics. By collecting gate receipts and other revenue the total request for athletics would be $408,805 instead of $458, 805.”

Macero said WSD has eliminated one high school English teaching position. This would save money on salary while other teachers can pick up the slack due to the fact the 8th grade and high school grades will be housed together for two years as the new middle/high school is being built.

“Winthrop Public Schools continues to look under every rock for additional revenue. As I stated last year, budgets increase and decrease on a yearly basis depending upon the strength of the economy,” said Macero. “However, for a student it is their only year in that particular grade. Winthrop wants all of our students to have every opportunity that all our neighboring communities have as well. Once again, the School department is very appreciative of the Town Manager’s support as we continue to move Winthrop forward. Mr. McKenna has continued to express he will advocate for the schools as best he can to provide a solid foundation for all of our students.”

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