Regional School Committee: 4.4% budget increase (6.7% for Southborough) and an update on Phys Ed requirement

The Northborough Southborough Regional School Committee has approved an FY15 budget of $20,086,188. It is lower than discussed in January, but still a 4.39% increase.

For Southborough, thanks to a snafu in last year’s contribution assessments by the state, the increase is 6.69%

In January, Superintendent Dr. Charles Gobron forecasted a 4.99% increase in the Algonquin Regional High School budget. He warned that the figure may need to be adjusted based on state figures. Now, calling the state’s planned contributions disappointing, Gobron lowered his ask.

The reason for Southborough’s increased share of funding is that the town needs to make up for underfunding the FY14 budget.

Last winter, the state assigned a significant jump in Northborough’s share of minimum contributions to the budget. In June, the state reassessed that contribution.

In the end, Southborough’s assessed share increased $164,400. Since it occurred after the Annual Town Meeting, it needs to be funded in the new budget.

After deducting funding from the state and other funds, the school will be asking the towns to split $15.9M. With a 41.7% share of the student population, and the FY14 adjustment, Southborough is being asked to pay $6.9M.

As for reductions from January’s proposal, they were spread out over much of the budget.

One savings was postponing an additional district administrator to the 2nd half of the next school year. That will allow the new superintendent to decide how to use the position.

The new Physical Education position was reduced from full time to 8%. Next year will be a transitional one for the phys ed requirements.

Some seniors will be able to opt out from the requirement with a “substitution”. So far, the substitution hasn’t been fully clarified.

In a letter to parents, Algonquin Principal Tom Mead wrote:

Any substitutions will be addressed later in the scheduling process when schedules become more solidified. All classes beyond 2016 will be required to enroll in a health and fitness course every year in high school.

Mead addressed the committee about the P.E. requirement plan. Gobron referred to the substitution as an individual plan through the school. Mead followed up, “We’ll coordinate that substitution with whoever people find”.

One Committee member asked about the difficulty students will have fitting in AP courses going forward. Mead replied that students always have to make difficult choices due to the breadth of options. While this “adds to the mix”, he lauded the Guidance Department as doing a great job helping students build schedules that work for them.

Committee members thanked Mead for responding to the community and quickly developing a new plan that met most needs.

(Photo by Susan Fitzgerald)

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