Southborough K-8 School Committee approves $17 million schools budget

Back in January Superintendent Charles Gobron told the K-8 School Committee the district may have to eliminate up to four full-time positions to make the budget numbers work. Last night he told the committee he was recommending the reduction of only two positions thanks to a budget “gamble” on special education funding.

Reports the Metrowest Daily News:

To keep the increase “fiscally responsible,” Gobron said he reduced the projected tuition costs of sending special education students to outside schools by $100,000.

Gobron did so because a student or students who would have needed $100,000 in tuition moved out of the district. However, he admitted that he was taking a “gamble” because it’s possible someone else with such needs could move in during the school year.

Gobron said he liked the gamble more than the alternative, which would be cutting four teachers instead of the two already scheduled to be cut because of declining enrollment.

The first position that will be cut will be in the first grade, while the second will be determined later this spring, Gobron said.

The School Committee voted to support the $17M budget – a 4.06% increase over last year – although some members said Gobron’s gamble made them uncomfortable. You can read more in this article by the MWDN.

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Al Hamilton
9 years ago

Once again we see that the School Committee Spin Machine is engaged in “fuzzy math”

” Marybeth Strickland noted that both budgets were largely driven by special education. A one-time $300,000 saving in special education was responsible for the .68 increase, she said, and necessary SPED increases of $437,352 in fiscal 2014 are driving costs the other way.

“Really the way to look at our budget is to average the two,” she said, which makes the increase each year look “very modest.”

The other large increase in the budget is contracted raises for staff, which account for about $400,000 of the increase.”

Lets look at this. Last year the SPED costs went down by $300k and this year they are up by $437K. So, over 2 years the SPED costs rose by about $137k.

However, staff costs this year alone rose by $400k and last year the rose at least that much. So, over 2 years staff costs rose by at least $800k. That is the real driver in school costs, the gold plated union contracts (7% raises for all) that the School Committee Approved almost completely in secret.

Our K-8 teachers are paid well above the state average and as a result our K-8 schools spend significantly more that other quality schools in our area. We spend $13,428 per pupil,vs Shrewsbury $10,804, Medfield $11,364, Acton $11,480, Medway $11,641, Belmont $11,969, Ashland, $12,007, Holliston $12,089 to name a few. http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/state_report/ppx.aspx

Ms. Strickland should be ashamed, blaming our fiscal woes on special needs students. If she wants to know who is to blame for the difficulty we have in finding the funds to educate our children she need only find a mirror.

Frank Crowell
9 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

It does seem to be the new theme – special needs costs are going up – that’s the budget problem. In the mean time, the 800 pound gorilla in room just keeps on eating. Point it out and you are bashing teachers, but it is quite all right to bash special ed budget (“It’s all about the children”).

Nothing will change until we are all allowed to vote on the education budget at the ballot box. Recent addition the School Committee is direct evidence to say nothing of the veterans on the committee who should be held contempt charges by TM with respect to the teacher’s contract ratification.

Johnboy
9 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

As usual Al has the facts. Our school committee should be voted out completely . They won’t be happy until the school budget absorbs all of the budget. With the current trend in teacher salaries it won’t be long before professionals ( doctors, lawyers, engineers) leave to become school teachers. Why not! Shorter days, more holidays, guarantied jobs, summers off. I do not mean to denigrate the teaching profession it is just that powerful unions, fawning contracts by school committees are turning the profession into a tax gobbling entity. Why do other towns have much lower per pupil costs? Are the children in these towns less or under educated?
Voters should wake up and smell the tax bills!

Neil Rossen
9 years ago

Well, no point in attending Town Meeting to once again see our pockets picked by the school and gullible voters. Just wait for the mail and pay the increased property taxes and belt up! After all its for the lovely teachers and “our” chi,dren.

Carrie
9 years ago

the SPED costs are up because we have a stellar program and people move here and live wherever they can in, in whatever housing they can afford, in order to access the services for their children and by law we have to provide the accommodations. So, one cannot just “get rid of SPED costs” that would be breaking the law. End of Story. My advice is that you take your rant to Deval Patrick –make up some signs and march on the State House–and not out on those who are serving on School Committee and really, the teachers and the aides providing the education? These are children who are accessing the curriculum.

Al Hamilton
9 years ago
Reply to  Carrie

Carrie

The only people who are blaming SPED children for our rising costs are the School Committee. Event though this is demonstrably not the canse, they are doing this because they desperately do not want to talk about the real year in and year out cost driver, the union contracts they negotiated and approved effectively in secret.

For the record, I support SPED spending it is a measure of our commitment to all the children of our community. It can be very expensive but it is not the source of our never ending increases in education costs. Even though our school population is declining, the 7% raises that are baked into our union contracts are what is driving our costs.

Lets get real!
9 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

Carrie, I don’t think anyone is saying we need to cut the Sped budget or as you say..” Get rid of the sped budget”; they are merely saying it is a large part of the budget. Marybeth Strickland admits that herself. What people are saying/complaining about is: don’t keep blaming the sped budget for our fiscal woes but look to the teacher contracts….something the school committee doesn’t seem to want to discuss.

Johnboy
9 years ago
Reply to  Lets get real!

Blaming SPED is a clever way to deflect the real issue—overly generous, out of line teacher contracts.
Your vote for SC has consequences!
Vote for candidates that consider the overall consequences of teacher contracts have on tax rates. Southborough does not have to be elitist when it comes to compensation

Frank Crowell
9 years ago
Reply to  Carrie

If the School Committee would take stock in the taxpayer we would all be happier. Maybe something along the lines of approving a new teacher contract prior to TM so that we could get all the details rather then a bunch of hand waiving and declarations that details cannot be discussed because the contract is not ratified. Oh, and then real disgrace, the contract is ratified just after TM.

Respect is a two way street.

Johnboy
9 years ago
Reply to  Frank Crowell

Remember, the SC shielded the contents of the teacher contract and did not provide details at town meeting.

Johnboy
9 years ago
Reply to  Carrie

It is fact that our SC approves teacher contracts.
It is fact that our per pupil costs are higher than sorrounding towns.
I don’t know if our higher costs produces better results.

John Kendall
9 years ago
Reply to  Johnboy

These are NOT my posts, however, it would be nice to remove some of the autonomy from the School Committee so our other officials could have more of a say in how the budget is divided up between all the departments.

Resident
9 years ago

Mr. Hamilton and others, I seem to recall Mr. Rooney raising these same questions during at least the last two town meetings and no one seemed to care. Nothing has changed nor will it ever until enough people wake up, and by then it is going to be to late.

Resident
9 years ago

Mr. Hamilton mentions

“Our K-8 teachers are paid well above the state average and as a result our K-8 schools spend significantly more that other quality schools in our area. We spend $13,428 per pupil,vs Shrewsbury $10,804, Medfield $11,364, Acton $11,480, Medway $11,641, Belmont $11,969, Ashland, $12,007, Holliston $12,089 to name a few.”

Aren’t these the type of questions Advisory should be asking when they meet next week? How can they support the school budget without asking why our town has to spend more? Acton has a regional HS like us and they have better educational performance and spend less. Why? How does this happen?

Johnboy
9 years ago
Reply to  Resident

Again, ask yourself who approves the school budget that is so out of line with surrounding towns. The Advisory committee may not condone these budgets but the power to approve the school budget lies with the school committee.
Remember that when it is time to vote for SC members.

Neil Rossen
9 years ago

In today’s Globe West you can read that Shrewsbury refused to increase property taxes and the school will just have to adjust. Their taxpayers have had enough. I guess the disadvantage of higher incomes which Southborough enjoys leads to irrational decisions on how much to spend on schools. Of course, heaven forbid that we should link teacher’s pay to objective test scores. Gobron is clearly against that, and the unions will go to war about it. Merit pay? Too radical; by half. Beats me.

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