Gobron previews K-8 school budget

by susan on December 14, 2012

Superintendent Charles Gobron previewed the K-8 school budget at a meeting earlier this week. He didn’t talk numbers – that comes next month – rather he discussed the overarching factors that impact the budgeting process. Gobron said the school district is dealing with some significant fiscal constraints, including the loss of one-time savings and the cost of implementing new state mandates.

Gobron told the Southborough School Committee several students who received special education services aged out of the district last year, which resulted in a one-time savings of $300K. Gobron warned the district likely won’t see the same degree of savings this year.

“While a reduction of nearly $300,000 in Special Education placements brought serious relief to the FY13 budget, it did create a one time savings,” Gobron wrote in a presentation to the committee.

Gobron said the new state-mandated teacher evaluation process, which must be implemented during the 2013-2014 school year, will bring with it additional costs. Partly in response to the increased administrative workload, Gobron said he will likely recommend the district hire a new assistant principal to work with Principal Jim Randell who splits his time between Woodward and Finn.

Randell, already a principal at Woodward, took over responsibility for Finn when Principal Mary Ryan retired in 2011. Gobron said the sharing arrangement is working well, but more administrative support is needed.

Gobron told the School Committee he will also reprise his request for a district-wide network administrator. The position, of which Southborough would pay a third, was requested in last year’s budget, but was cut before getting to Town Meeting.

The budget also needs to account for an increase in math support at the schools, Gobron said. In the past school officials have acknowledged there is room for improvement in the district’s math program based on MCAS results, but Assistant Superintendent Christine Johnson said the focus on math is driven not by MCAS scores but by new core mathematics requirements imposed by the state.

“It’s in response to a change in instructional pedagogy,” she said.

School Committee member Kathleen Harragan Polutchko said the district is in a unique position to evaluate school needs this year thanks to insight from a large number of initiatives currently underway, including those centered on strategic planning, curriculum mapping, K-8 housing, and more.

“I think it’s fair to say that now more than any time in our history we’re in touch with our schools…We are never going to have a better handle on what we really need than right now,” Harragan Polutchko¬†said. “We need to take advantage of that, to raise our hand and say if not now, when?”

Want to see Gobron’s budget presentation for yourself? I’ve posted it here.

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