Superintendent's FY 18 Budget Message
Peter Sanchioni, Ph.D.
For the past nine years the Natick Public Schools have experienced financial stability predicated on multiple extraordinary events:
- the passage of an operational override in the spring of 2008,
- the receipt of $1,733,013 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in the spring of 2009,
- the receipt of additional Chapter 70 funds from the State in the spring of 2010,
- the receipt of Federal Funds in the spring of 2011 in the form of an EDU Jobs Grant, $518,585
- the receipt of additional Chapter 70 funds in the springs of 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 as a result of a rising student population.
- the support from a strong overall municipal budget for FY 17
These additional funding sources were used to avoid major budget deficits that would have led to drastic cuts in personnel. Even with these additional revenues, several positions were eliminated in 2009 and 2010 including the District Curriculum Coordinator positions for Language Arts and Math, a maintenance position, and a custodial position. However, no direct teaching positions were ever lost. Advantageously, in FY 12 and 13, six teaching positions were added to address enrollment needs. Two at Wilson in FY 12 and two at Kennedy, one at Johnson and one at Ben Hem in FY 13. In FY 14, with the additional Chapter 70 funds, the Natick Public Schools added 11 critically needed teaching positions to address rising enrollments. In FY 15 the Natick Public Schools added another 7.4 additional staff members all necessary due to rising enrollment. Again in FY 16, 9.9 positions were added to help deliver level services. Again, in FY 17 the school department added 17.1 FTE. Without these added teachers, academic class sizes would have soared well over 27 students in many core academic areas. In the last five years the Natick Public Schools have added 506 additional students.
Our financial and personnel stability has translated into district academic success, highlighted by a continued high graduation rate at the high school, accentuated by many students who receive acceptance from the most competitive colleges in the nation. Other notable marks of accomplishment include:
- Newsweek ranked Natick High School #448 in America’s Top 500 High School
- Boston Magazine ranked Natick #47 in Best Public Schools in Boston 2016 in their exclusive ranking of 125 school districts in the Greater Boston area
- College Board named the Natick Public Schools to their 6th Annual AP Honor Roll for Significant Gains in Student Access and Success
- Natick continues to implement a highly successful 1:1 program for grades 8-12
- The Natick School District has become a desirable place to work, thus, providing us the ability to hire and retain a highly qualified and certified staff
There is no doubt that, when adequately staffed, the Natick Public Schools has an educational strategic plan that is unsurpassed in Massachusetts. The foundation of that plan is built on the fact that the main determinant of student achievement is the ability and dedication of our classroom teachers and those who support them.
The FY 18 Budget Proposal is focused on increasing our current staffing levels that will continue to build upon the academic success our students are experiencing. In that budget our goals are the following:
- Meet all mandated and fixed costs due to our contractual obligations
- Appropriate negotiated COLAs
- Add additional staffing positions needed to provide level service at all grade levels
- Add additional staff positions to expand learning opportunities
- Add additional staff needed for mandated Special Education services across the District.
- Appropriate calculated increases in energy costs, transportation costs and all mandated program costs associated with Special Education
- Educate the 5478 students we serve daily to superior levels of achievement through high-quality instruction
We are currently requesting 32.7 FTE additional positions. These positions range from required staffing to meet special education requirements to adding critically needed core academic teachers to keep class sizes manageable, especially at Natick High School where we expect to add 85 students at a minimum for school year 2017-2018.
Budgets are about priority choices, and I believe that the choices within this proposed budget are the most prudent within fiscal constraints.
In closing, we recognize that the citizens of Natick take exceptional pride in their public school system. We are appreciative of the efforts of the town officials and its citizens to protect and build upon that resource with intelligent decision-making. We are particularly appreciative of the leadership efforts by the School Committee, Selectmen, Finance Committee, Financial Planning Committee, Ms. Martha White, Town Administrator and Mr. Bill Chenard, Deputy Town Administrator who have worked in a partnership with us enabling us to fulfill our obligation to educate the children of Natick to the greatest extent possible.
Peter Sanchioni, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools