Back-to-Back School Committee Meetings Push Proposed FY21 Budget Closer To Reality

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The School Committee met twice last week, once on June 10 and again on June 11.

June 10th Meeting
At their June 10 meeting, the School Committee approved a $1,278,000 reduction to the originally proposed FY21 School Budget. This vote did not approve cuts to specific line items, rather a collective reduction.

June 11th Meeting

The following night, at their June 11 meeting, the School Committee deliberated the reductions that were proposed at the previous meeting.

The School Committee was met by a vocal group of parents, advocating for special education, world language, and the gifted and talented program. Superintendent Jon Sills and School Committee Chair JoAnn Santiago assured parents that the comments would be taken into consideration.

Dana Curran, the World Language Department program administrator, provided her view on the downside of removing third-grade world language. Curran said that potential cuts to world language would negatively impact students, citing studies that reinforce the idea that studying a world language enhances children’s knowledge in their primary language.

Andrea Salipante, the ELA program administrator, addressed the committee as a proponent of utilizing the time spent teaching Spanish to third-grade students to provide literacy intervention and enrichment opportunities. Salipante emphasized the need for literacy intervention and enrichment by citing estimated numbers of unprepared students entering the third grade due to virtual learning.

Superintendent Sills, acknowledging the school committee members’ hesitance and the many public comments at the beginning of the meeting, provided four scenarios that reworked the proposed cuts.

The first scenario included:

  • Restore one FTE third grade teaching assistant, and two FTE behavior-tech teaching assistants,
  • reduce a special education personal assistant for the out-of-district, non-personnel expense,
  • adjust rental offset,
  • increase use of impact aid offset.

The second scenario:

  • Add a third-grade professional teacher and restore one behavior-tech teaching assistant,
  • reduce 0.4 FTE special education personal assistant
  • reduce non-personnel expense
  • adjust rental offset.

The third scenario:

  • Add a third-grade professional teacher, restore one behavior-tech teaching assistant, and 0.8 FTE third grade world language teacher
  • reduce 0.4 FTE special education personal assistant,
  • reduce non-personnel expense
  • adjust rental offset
  • increased use of impact aid offset.

The fourth scenario:

  • Restore one FTE teaching assistant, one FTE behavior-tech teaching assistant, and 0.8 FTE third grade world language teacher
  • reduce 0.4 FTE special education personal assistant,
  • reduce non-personnel expense,
  • adjust rental offset,
  • increased use of impact aid offset

After much deliberation, the School Committee chose to defer voting on the budget until Sills and Business Director Julie Kirrane could fine-tune their budget proposals. The School Committee indicated that they leaned towards the third scenario; however, they tasked Sills and Kirrane to find a way to also include the gifted and talented budget.

The final budget decision will be made at a School Committee meeting on Tuesday, June 16.


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