Northborough schools lay out $26.9 million preliminary budget

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NorthboroughNORTHBOROUGH – Superintendent Gregory Martineau presented a preliminary budget of $26.9 million to the Northborough School Committee during their Dec. 2 meeting.  

It called for a $1.1 million increase over the Fiscal Year 2022 budget.

“At this point in time in the budget process, we have a lot more work to do moving forward, but the preliminary FY23 budget is $26,934,864, which reflects the 4.4 percent increase over FY22,” Martineau said.  

Martineau said some of the increases come, in part, from increases in costs associated with contracted custodial cleaning and trash removal services. 

According to Martineau’s presentation, the two largest increases in this preliminary budget are associated with out-of-district and collaborative tuitions as well as both salary and cost of living increases.

The district wasn’t aware of any potential faculty retirements, Martineau said. 

District ‘monitoring’ variables

There are also several outstanding variables, such as inflation and out of district special education funding.

“We are seeing an impact to our FY22 budget, and we do anticipate that to continue in FY23,” Martineau said of inflation. “So, it’s something we’re monitoring closely.” 

Initial budget requests from principals and directors came in at about $28.8 million, translating to an 11.73 percent increase for this upcoming fiscal year. Martineau said that is the largest percentage the district will see in the budget process. 

The district’s leadership team reviewed initial requests and found just under $2 million in reductions, leading to the preliminary budget presented on Dec. 2

“Part of the work that we do as a leadership team is really thinking about, what if there were no fiscal constraints what would we want to see in terms of the asks for the budget,” Martineau said.  

Among the initial budget requests were a number of proposed positions that were not included in the preliminary budget presented on Dec. 2. Those may be added to the budget as this process moves forward. 

According to Martineau’s presentation, a total of 8.2 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions were requested, including everything from two instructional technology specialists to a 1.5 FTE team chair.



 

Staff said during a previous School Committee meeting on Nov. 23 about the budget, that the team chair would be a special education position. Currently, there is one team chair spread across the four elementary schools. This would add a second individual, creating a new situation where each chair would handle two schools.

“What we’re doing now as a leadership team is really prioritizing these positions and really thinking about, if we can only request one or two new positions, what would they be. Those conversations are underway,” Martineau said on Dec. 2. 

The School Committee has prioritized its Elementary Strings Program which would benefit from a requested 0.4 FTE addition. 

“I’m very excited to see that the Elementary Strings 0.4 position is something that’s being considered,” said School Committee Chair Lauren Bailey-Jones on Dec. 2.

Bailey-Jones is also part of Northborough’s music task force. She said one of that group’s recommendations was to include a strings program at the elementary level in Northborough. 

During the School Committee’s Nov. 23 meeting, School Committee member Joan Frank asked if a 0.4 FTE increase would mean a new person would be hired. 

Martineau said that this would “most likely” be a new hire “especially because of the specialized instruction that would need to take place.”

Frank asked if the district would be able to find someone to work for 0.4 FTE. Martineau said the district has had past success, including hiring specialized music teachers at Melican Middle School.

Committee discusses Northborough, Southborough budgets

During the Nov. 23 meeting, School Committee Member Erin Tagliaferri asked how Northborough’s school budget compared to Southborough’s.

Martineau said he hasn’t done a line item analysis, but said that the two budgets were comparable in terms of special education funding, class sizes and services. One of the differences was the configuration of neighborhood schools and allocation of resources, he said. 

“I think both the budgets support the operations well in both communities,” Martineau said. “I wouldn’t say one community is off balance with the other, in terms of budget requests.” 

Frank said she had previously had similar concerns, but found that where students lived didn’t put them ahead. 

“When you get to the high school, all those fears or those concerns you have are [brushed] aside, and the kids all come together as one,” she said. 

Martineau will present his recommended budget to the School Committee in the coming months. There will be a public hearing on March 2.

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