Hudson school budget set to be $42.7 million

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Hudson school budget set to be $42.7 million
The Hudson Public Schools administration building sits at the corner of Apsley St. and Lake St. in Hudson. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

HUDSON – The Hudson Public Schools budget is projected to increase 2.75% in the 2024 fiscal year, which is the same increase as the past fiscal year.

That’s according to Director of Finance and Operations Daniel Gale, who presented the budget during a joint meeting between the School Committee and Finance Committee Dec. 6.

“We are trying to create a budget that creates excellent education programs for all of our students,” Gale said.

The school budget for fiscal year 2024 is projected to be $42,705,340.

Gale had originally projected a 4.15% increase in expenses. He called this “an early estimate” which could be changed after Executive Assistant Thomas Gregory set the 2.75% increase.

Out-of-district costs

Like neighboring districts, Hudson school leaders also voiced concerns about an increase in out-of-district costs for special education students.

Last fall, the Operational Services Division at the state’s Executive Office for Administration and Finance authorized a 14% increase in special education private schools’ tuition for fiscal year 2024.

This increase has been attributed to an adjustment for the cost of living and an effort to retain staff at the schools.

According to Gale, the 14% increase translates to an additional $200,000 to provide services for special education students.

“My association, the school finance director and the superintendents are also writing letters to the state saying that 14% is too big of an increase for us to handle,” he said.

In response, Gale said he has budgeted an additional $150,000 to mitigate the increase of costs for special education students who could remain in the Hudson district because this cost would be too expensive.

During a typical year, a 2.75% increase still makes it difficult to cover special education costs, Gale said. However, now that the tuition is increasing, it’s “even harder” to work with a 2.75% increase, he said.

School Committee Chair Michele Tousignant Dufour said she expected the increase in out-of-district special education tuition.

“The kids overall have an increase in need coming right out of COVID, so the increase does not necessarily surprise me,” Tousignant Dufour said. “We are trying to keep our kids in the district as much as possible, but when they need it, they need it, so we send them somewhere to meet those needs.”

However, she said the projected budget for fiscal year 2024 “looks good.”

Tousignant Dufour said the school department would still be able to meet the needs of students thanks to Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, which is emergency relief funding set aside by Congress during the pandemic.

“I am not concerned for 2024,” Tousignant Dufour said.

According to Gale, the School Committee will meet again on Jan. 31 to review the budget and the Finance Committee will discuss it on Feb. 6. Then, the School Committee will formally approve the budget in March.