School board cuts budget $500,000
The Board of Education voted unanimously to reduce $532,155 from its 2018-19 school budget Monday night. The cuts bring the total budget down to $95 million, or a 2.55% increase over this year, as directed by the Board of Finance.
The cuts were made item by item from a prioritized list marked from “no risk” to “high risk.” None of the reductions made were above a “medium” risk.
The largest reduction is in new staff, where the hiring of two new school psychologists was dropped — creating a savings of $144,000. In his list of prioritized reductions for the board, acting Superintendent Dr. Robert Miller called those a medium risk.
The board also made reductions in technology ($102,984), special education ($68,611), school budgets ($50,000), facility projects ($39,210), curriculum and instruction ($38,350), and athletics ($18,000).
Removing psychologists gave some board members pause.
“It just really concerns me to remove those psychologists,” said board Secretary Margaret Stamatis.
She asked whether leaving an assistant principal position vacant at East Ridge Middle School, to keep the psychologists, would better serve the students.
Miller said that the role is helpful for evaluating teachers throughout the year.
The board also debated reductions to curriculum.
“We’re spending more on athletics than we are on curriculum,” board member Sharon D’Orso pointed out.
Assistant Superintendent Kim Beck, who was in the audience at the meeting, said she felt comfortable with the reductions that had been made to curriculum.
“We’re delaying some of the work that we’d hoped to achieve this year,” she explained.
“We’ve got to cut something.”
“This is the sad part,” said Vice Chairman Doug Silver.
The 2018-19 school budget will be presented at the Annual Town Meeting Monday, May 7.