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School Committee cuts operating budget to keep nurses

Westborough – The School Committee has spent its last two meetings shoring up some housekeeping issues.

The biggest of these issues was the decision to vote to cut the operating budget by between $60,000 and $80,000 to preserve 1-1/2 nursing positions that were slated to be eliminated because of a reduction of about $75,000 from the Essential Skills Health Grant that is provided by the state Department of Public Health.

The grant request, which the district has received for the last two years, had been $95,000, with funding the last two years at $85,000. The Department of Public Health notified Anne Towle, Westborough's Superintendent of Schools, in May that the Essential Skills Health Grant amount the town would receive this year would be $9,000.

School Committee member Stephen Doret requested the administration review options that included reducing the nursing staff in the district by 1-1/2 nurses or alternate ways to generate funds to cover the reduction of the grant.

Towle, saying that she didn't believe the town could aff ord to lose 1-1/2 nurses from its staff , suggested at the School Committee's June 4 meeting that the board vote to reduce the operating budget by $60,000 to cover the losses, transferring that money to the line item that funds the district's nursing staff .

Doret pointed out that the grant reduction was about $75,000, but the funds transfer was only $60,000. Towle explained that she believed the other monies could be found in other areas of the budget, but if it could not, the district would come back before the board to request another transfer to fund the remaining amount.

Towle said the school administration has made a tentative decision to reduce the technology, maintenance and educational supplies budgets by $20,000 each. She said the district will also continue to look at other ways money can be pared or generated throughout the budget.

Doret suggested the district look into transportation and supplies as areas that may be able to be trimmed. Previously he has suggested charging students a parking fee as a way of generating money for the district.

At its June 18 meeting, the School Committee voted unanimously to renew its food service contract with Chartwells Educational Dining Services.

The contract is entering the third year of a five-year contract and Westborough School District Business Director Dan Hendricks said the feedback the administration has received about the lunches provided has been almost completely positive.

"Everybody seems happy with them," Hendricks said. "The students seem to like the off erings and several have told me that when they make suggestions about additions to the menu, a lot of those suggestions get added. The program seems like its going in the right direction."

The School Committee also voted unanimously to increase the cost of the school lunches by 25 cents across the board. Hendricks said despite the increase the school lunch program is expected to operate at what he called a "slight" deficit. Hendricks said cuts and improvements made last year allowed the district to decrease the deficit to $18,000.

Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=2786

Posted by on Jun 27 2008. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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