By K.B. Sherman, Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – At its April 28 meeting, the Board of Selectmen discussed the warrant for the upcoming Monday, May 18 Annual Town Meeting (ATM) and the associated Operating and Capital Fund budgets.
Town Manager Daniel Morgado and School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Sawyer discussed the school budget with selectmen. Sawyer agreed with the selectmen that the tax override of 2014 had been used to best effect, making a “dramatic improvement” in the town’s schools, while Selectman Chair James Kane noted that the school budget planning works best when the budget is sustainable.
The override of 2014 has resulted in the budget being increased by approximately $930,000 for the year. The move toward improving math and science studies in Shrewsbury has reportedly decreased the desire by some to move to charter schools, which is also a benefit for the town, the officials said. Sawyer noted that the new budget used personnel to the best effect and that the move to digital media and away from printed material is also proving a benefit.
As has been the case, special education (SPED) continues to be very costly and personnel-intensive, especially in recruiting ever more SPED professionals, now called “behavioral analysis technicians.” These professionals work with students with substantial disabilities, such as the need for help in feeding themselves, speaking, and using educational materials. As a measure of SPED program success, asserted Sawyer, some former SPED students no longer need special help upon their arrival at high school.
Of the 41 articles listed on the preliminary ATM warrant, the board recommended 37 as written and one additional article with changes. Selectman Maurice DePalo said he believes the budget is very encouraging a year after passing the operational override. Selectman Moira Miller noted that for the first time she feels optimistic about school funding, to which Sawyer replied that he, too, was very pleased with the way the budget had worked-out.
With regard to other articles on the warrant, the selectmen voted to continue work on Article 5, which deals with departmental appropriations for fiscal year 2015. The Board also voted not to recommend Article 14, which deals with banning fluoridation in the town water supply. They voted to recommend Article 21, dealing with establishing a Farmers’ Market, and voted not to recommend Article 25, dealing with transferring money from the Library Project to the Sherwood Middle and Spring Street School projects. Finally, they voted to not recommend passage of Article 32, dealing with extension of the town water system.