School budget issues at School Committee meeting

May 20, 2023

The school budget compromise, reached through discussions between school and town officials, is still nearly $100,000 short School Committee members stated at their May 15 meeting. 

Due to a calculation error, the agreed upon budget increase of $2,126,606 to be voted on at Spring Town Meeting still remains about $99,000 less than what the school district needs, committee members said.

The compromise made between the School Committee and Select Board will allow the school district to present their final requested budget to voters at spring Town Meeting, despite the School Committee saying that it is still $99,000 short. 

“It is certainly unfortunate, and I am still trying to understand how the town ended up $99,000 short, and the [Select Board] voted on that, and that’s what is going to be [posted] on the warrant,” said Christopher Oliver, vice chairperson of the School Committee.

To resolve this issue, the School Committee proposed multiple solutions.

Oliver suggested using the kindergarten stabilization fund.

According to Finance Director Gary Carreiro, this account contains money put aside in 2010 intended to form a steering committee to determine the feasibility of offering all-day kindergarten programs. Currently the account holds $324,949.35 and has never been used.

Committee member Shannon Jenkins had issues with using a non-renewable source of income, anticipating larger budget problems in the future.

There was some discussion about resolving the $99,000 budget gap at Spring Town Meeting through an amendment to the proposed budget article or by waiting until Fall Town Meeting to create a separate article that would add the $99,000 to the school budget.

Still, financial challenges remain on the horizon with unresolved teacher contracts, the end of Covid funding and other town projects, say town officials.