Hudson – Education expenditures of $32.3 million were approved during the Feb. 7 Board of Selectmen meeting. Presentations by Dr. Kevin Lyons, Hudson Public School superintendent, and Mary Jo Nawrocki, superintendent of Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School, included breakdowns of student performance, updates on capital improvements and explanations for increases in funding requests.
“We’ve been in a budget freeze for all expense items,” Lyons said. “Lots of supplies for students are not being purchased.”
For four consecutive years Hudson Public Schools have seen cuts to all non-teaching positions, he added. Citing the loss of funding from federal stimulus money, Lyons said positions may be cut if that funding is not replaced.
“We’ve been able to maintain adequate staffing without an adequate budget,” he said.
$285,000 remains from the Education Jobs grant, which Lyons described as a “small fraction” of the total budget. The superintendent also specifi cally cited need for support for literacy in his request for a half-time literacy specialist for the elementary schools.
Unfunded federal mandates and student migration into and out of the Hudson Public Schools were also reflected in the budget request. The number of students leaving Hudson for Assabet Valley Technical High School or the Advanced Math and Science Charter School are “up signifi- cantly in both cases, and that is of some concern,” Lyons said. Students departing the district take state money with them to their next school, he added.
Special education also presents a cost, Lyons said; citing the example of one student who in an out- ofdistrict residential placement costs the district $200,000 a year. Special education tuition in some cases is expected to increase up to $525,000 this fiscal year. (In an interview after the selectmen’s meeting, Patty Lange, the district’s finance director, said special education accounts for 29 percent of the district’s budget. )
“I wish I could give you some help financially,” Selectman Joseph Durant told Lyons. “All I can do is give you a pat on the back.”
The board acknowledged the importance of education and approved funding for $30.8 million for the Hudson Public Schools.
According to Lange, even though the district will receive some funding from school choice, special education grants and the Education Job grants, the district will still be facing a deficit of approximately $991,000.
In her presentation, Nawrocki spoke of the 135 students from Hudson, which constitute about 12 percent of the school’s nearly 1,100 students. Of that group, 102 are regular education students and 33 are special education students. The most popular career shops chosen by Hudson students are metal fabrication, health careers and HVAC. Hudson students have an average GPA of 2.9, their MCAS scores are proficient, and there is an increase in the number of honors classes enrollment and participants in the State Scholars program. Selectmen approved $1.5 million, which is approximately 9 percent of the total school budget of $17.3 million.
Other action taken by the selectmen include appointing one auxiliary firefighter; approving a contract for $11,600 for advocacy and counseling services at the Senior Center; purchasing a motor for the sidewalk plow from Chadwick-Baross of Chelmsford in the amount of $9,950; approving another contract with Patriot Ambulance, Inc. for the period of July 2011 to June 2014; and approving a contract with REC1 for web-based online registration software.