By Bill Gilman and Laura Hayes
SHREWSBURY – Shrewsbury Public Schools is anticipating increasing its budget for daily substitutes by 93.6%.
Shrewsbury Public Schools Superintendent Joseph Sawyer is recommending a school department budget of just over $83 million for the 2024 fiscal year. Sawyer unveiled his detailed budget request at the Feb. 15 School Committee meeting.
According to Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Finance Patrick Collins, a day-to-day substitute is on call and is paid $100 a day. He noted that the district also has building substitute teachers who are contracted for the entire year for $140 a day.
Collins presented how much was budgeted for daily substitutes versus how much the district actually spent. For fiscal years 2017 and 2018, Collins said the district was close to the budgeted amount of $310,600 — which was budgeted for both years — though slightly over budget.
In 2019, Shrewsbury budgeted $320,900, but its actual expenditures came in “more significantly over budget” according to Collins at $463,223. During the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, Collins said the district was under budget.
In fiscal year 2022, the district budgeted $375,900 for daily substitute teachers; however, the actual amount spent was $560,006.
This line item was increased to $394,500 for the 2023 fiscal year.
“Right now, to date, we have already expended about 94% of our daily substitute budget,” said Collins. “Yet, we are only 53% of the way through the school year.”
Collins said that day-today substitute costs are seasonal with the district typically spending more on substitutes in the second half of the year.
“Kind of makes sense with graduations that occur, other type of life events where staff need to take a personal day to attend those events and then we need to call in more substitutes,” said Collins.
With that in mind, the line item for daily substitutes has been increased to $763,894 for fiscal 2024.
The line item for long-term substitutes — who would be called in for several weeks or months to cover a medical leave — has also been increased by just over 14% to a total of $600,021. To date, the district has spent 57% of its budget for long-term substitutes.
Other budget items
In total, the $83,086,622 budget represents an increase of $3,767,351 or 4.75% over the current fiscal year.
Sawyer credited Collins for the work he and his team did in putting together the budget. This is Collins’ final budget for the district, as he will be retiring at the end of the school year.
Sawyer also thanked the residents of Shrewsbury for their support in approving the Proposition 2 1/2 override two years ago, which he said has provided the district with the ability to fund needed positions and services.
According to Sawyer and Collins, the vast majority of the budget increase is due to contractual raises for staff.
Several positions that were added during the current school year have been added to the fiscal 2024 budget. This includes 0.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) position for a special education teacher, 0.4 FTE for a world language teacher for heritage Portuguese, 1.0 FTE for an English Language Learner teacher at Spring Street School and 1.1 FTE in school nursing.
The budget also calls for adding a full-time science and engineering teacher at Shrewsbury High School, a reading specialist at Sherwood Middle School and one classroom teacher at the elementary level.
The number of paraprofessionals were increased by 25.7 FTE.
School Committee discusses substitute teacher shortage; after school program financial hardships