Southborough’s share of the Algonquin budget will decrease next year

For the past several years, Southborough’s share of the Algonquin budget has been on the increase, thanks mainly to rising enrollment. This year things are different.

The Regional School Committee last night approved a fiscal year 2014 budget for Algonquin that totals $19.2M, a 3.86% increase over last year. If approved at town meeting, Southborough would be responsible for paying $6.5M. That’s actually $13K less than last year, reports the Metrowest Daily News.

The decrease comes thanks to a change in the state’s Chapter 70 formula which lowered the amount Southborough is required to pay by $100K. The formula update was not nearly as positive for Northborough.

The Chapter 70 change means Northborough’s minimum contribution next year will increase by almost $600K thanks to “soaring economic growth in Northborough and a greater percentage of students at Algonquin,” writes the MWDN.

Due to the dramatic increase in Northborough’s assessment, Superintendent Charles Gobron told the school committee last night he trimmed his original budget request by about $200K to reach a level he felt would be more likely to pass at Northborough’s Town Meeting.

Not everyone was happy with the decision to lower the budget increase. Reports the MWDN:

“If I were a Northborough parent and I saw that you’re cutting my high school budget, I’d be pretty pissed,” said member Kathleen Polutchko of Southborough, who abstained from the vote because she felt the increase should have been higher.

You can read more about the Algonquin budget in this article by the MWDN. They also offer more coverage of the Northborough assessment increase here.

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Al Hamilton
9 years ago

Once again the whirling dervishes at the School Admin spin machine are if full motion.

“About 46 percent of teachers at the top of the pay scale got a 1.55 percent increase, Gobron said, while the others got higher increases because of incentives for added education and time in the system.”

Once again we see very selective release of information. What are the publicly available facts you might ask?

From 2010 to 2011 the latest year data is available Algonquin teachers salaries increased an average of 7.7%. Algonquin teachers in 2011 were paid $15,990 or 22.7% above the state average.

http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/profiles/teacher.aspx?orgcode=07300000&orgtypecode=5&leftNavId=815&

As for the so called “Cuts”, only in the bizzaro world of public finance is a $600,000 increase referred to as a “cut”.

This is an old political game which assumes the voters and tax payers are not paying attention. First a large number, untethered from reality, is floated. The a lesser number that still represents an increase is approved. Therein follows a great wailing and gnashing of teeth about devastating budget cuts. Underlying this fuzzy math is an arrogant assumption that the voters are not bright enough to see through the smoke and mirrors.

Frank Crowell
9 years ago

If the president and governor can get away with it, and if TM let’s them off the hook, why shouldn’t the school committees get away with fuzzy math or calling an increase a cut. We are what we elected.

I’m off explaining to my boss that my pay raise is a cut. “You have the option to leave Mass,” he will say. Actually might have to come to that.

Mark Ford
9 years ago
Reply to  Frank Crowell

Frank, it isn’t just the School Committees that do this. Pretty much every department talks about budget “cuts” when it’s their proposed increase that’s being cut. Hey at this rate our taxes will be “cut” to only a 3.9% increase!

Frank Crowell
9 years ago
Reply to  Mark Ford

Mark, yes, base line budgeting is the name of the game where built in increase is “level funding.” My list of phrases not to believed any more are:

– The check is in the mail
– The government is here to help
– We just cannot live with these cuts
– This new teacher’s contract has just a small raise built in – less then 2%

Mark Ford
9 years ago

Another thing annoys me about my read of this article…the budget increase was trimmed by $200,000 when it became clear that Northborough would shoulder a proportionally larger share of the increase. Had the formula not changed, it reads as though Dr. Gobron was willing to advance the originally proposed budget numbers–or, so long as Southborough eats a bigger piece of the budget, it’s ok…

just curious
9 years ago

I wish School Committee member Kathleen Polutchko’s abstention identified what specifically she felt would be left off by the $200,000 reduction in the budget and why that was such a critical item.

No criticism intended. It just would be helpful to understand what she believes is the impact of the $200,000 reduction in the proposed budget.

Mark Ford
9 years ago
Reply to  just curious

…well, here’s the list: not restoring the ass’t vice principal cut in 2009, not adding a phys ed teacher, not adding a half-time business teacher; $30,000 cut to textbooks and supplies, $2,000 reduction in custodial supplies, $3,500 reduction in building repairs…also an additional $50,000 used from the “rainy day fund” (side note: how much is in that fund, anyhow?).

Are a number of kids not going to get phys ed? Are kids not going to get business courses? Is the Algonquin building lettering not going to get fixed? Are floors going to be dirtier?

As to spending down the rainy day fund, I’m fine with that. Kind of like the S’Boro Reserve Fund…the sooner we take that number to a reasonable amount, the sooner we’ll need to confront the depth of our fiscal problem. (I believe we’ve done that in the case of the Reserve Fund.)

The most troublesome cut I see is to the textbook/supply line. Many of the books are old and damaged…

I wonder why Ms. Polutchko abstained, instead of voting against?

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