Shrewsbury School Committee hears budget forecast


By Joan Goodchild Community Reporter

Shrewsbury – School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Sawyer and Director of Business Services Liam Hurley met with the School Committee Feb. 9 to outline the anticipated costs and savings for the district's Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 budget cycle.

Sawyer noted at the start of the presentation that the district approach in crafting a budget was mindful of the current economic condition of the state and the country.

“These remain extraordinary times,” he said. “We have had very different approaches to the budget these last two years and I think appropriately so.”

Sawyer and Hurley presented a potential budget scenario of $48.9 million, a 3.9 percent increase over FY 2011's budget of $47.1 million. The budget scenario is 5.48 percent more than the town manager's recommendation of $46.3 million for the school budget.

Among some of the areas where spending will increase are textbook and instruction materials, personnel development, technology and transportation. However, the district will see some cost savings in vocational tuition, as well as choice tuition received by the district from students from other towns who choose to attend Shrewsbury High School. There is also some remaining eligible federal stimulus funding the district will receive and a special education out-of-district tuition reduction as well.

While operating expenses are forecasted to be up slightly – 1.5 percent – Sawyer noted the district has operated with what he called “inadequate funding the last few years” in this area.

School Committee members said they were pleased with the work put into the budget forecast.

Committee member Mark Murray had a positive response to the budget forecast.

“This is a very responsible, very measured, respectful and thoughtful plan,” Murray said. “It's not a recommendation, but where we are at right now.”

Committee member B. Dale Magee also commented on the forecast.

“This budget, no matter how we slice it and squeeze it and choke it, is still the biggest piece of Shrewsbury's investment,” Magee said. “At some point they have to recognize the value of what they are getting and it's a really good value.”

Member Erin Canzano questioned when a public forum would take place to allow members of the public to voice their thoughts on next year's budget. A hearing will be held at the next School Committee meeting before a formal request for a budget can be made and voted on.

In other business, the committee heard from representatives of Oak Middle School regarding its school improvement plan. Details of the plan include improving student performance, bullying prevention and the celebration and recognition of student talents.

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