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Superintendent FY20 Budget Update

Superintendent FY20 Budget Update
Posted on 04/17/2019
We are happy to report to you that our 5.7% budget request was passed Tuesday, April 9th, at town meeting 115-2. Our presentation to Town Meeting is posted here. This budget is composed of a 4.4% increase funded by town funding of various sources and 1.3 % from newly imposed fees and our own revolving accounts. This 1.3% is not a recurring revenue source on which we can continue to base our budget.
 
While the school committee and I are thrilled to have received this support from the town meeting, we have begun to worry about next year's budget process already. Looking ahead to next year, in FY21, the town administrator’s current forecast says the school budget increase will be at 4%. However, right now we know with that budget next year will not allow for the addition of ANY staff (legally mandated or otherwise), which will eliminate the slow implementation of staff to KMS and create a budget bottleneck in FY22.
 
In addition, with a 4.0% budget in FY21, we cannot keep pace with teacher salary needs Such an allocation would result in either no cost of living adjustments for staff and/or reductions to current staffing--further compromising the staffing of Kennedy and other schools.  When special education and English language learner needs for FY21 are apparent, we will have to make cuts to existing staff in order to fund them, as they are legally required parts of the educational program.
 
As responsible town partners, we will make every effort to conserve in every way, but the modular classrooms built at Lilja and Brown in the past 3 years are full,  and those students are now rising to the middle school. The MA School Building Authority agreed with our enrollment projections, overriding their usual enrollment cap on middle schools giving us a 1,000 student new KMS facility. In order to staff this building and move the district forward in general, a 4.0% budget will not suffice. In the absence of a long-range town financial plan, we have adjusted our revolving accounts to lower levels and applied moderate fee increases where possible, but we cannot jump further into fees and revolving funds as we will have no reserve for future planning deficits and emergencies--  needed special education services or English language learner services.
 
Financially, we are at a crossroads. It is our desire to bring forward the appropriate budget to meet the needs of our community, but not to do so in a way that depletes other town department budgets, making the school department the reason for future budget decisions such as the use of town reserves or other harsh financial decisions. To assist the town, the school department is out to bid for a contracted space and enrollment study in order to accurately inform our future budgets and planning.  
 
I share this with you now so you may be informed and consider these issues facing the town in the short and long term.
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