HUDSON — Executive Assistant Thomas Gregory reviewed the state aid numbers for the Fiscal Year 2024 and how Hudson will fare in terms of funding for schools at the Feb. 28 Finance Committee meeting.
According to Gregory, Gov. Maura Healey released her figures in regards to local aid, and it included an increase in Chapter 70 funding.
Because Hudson is a minimum aid community that receives a per student increase, and the town received a $60 per student increase, which totaled to $60,000, in 2023. This is not very much, Gregory said.
For 2024, the increase in Chapter 70 monies for Hudson was over $700,000 in comparison.
“The governor is pledging to fully fund The Student Opportunity Act this year,” he added.
Gregory reported that the charter school reimbursement, however, was reduced. It is one of two offsets that have specific uses for the school district.
Charter school figures are in the cherry sheet in both revenue and expenses, and that number has significantly increased. Gregory noted he had budgeted $400,000 over the initial $3.9 million.
“It’s essentially level-funded,” Gregory said.
He believed this fact helps Hudson because there would be more available revenue for appropriation. Gregory said he had pledged to the School Committee that he would attempt to increase their appropriation in the scenario that the Chapter 70 funding increased.
Although he did not have an exact number, he said, “I will be able to do that.”
He noted he was waiting for the member assessments for Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School, which he hoped might decrease.
The tax levy figure for Hudson is $63.8 million, which results in a surplus of $833,000. This amount would be partially used for the schools, Gregory said.
Finance Committee member Sam Calandra asked how much of the deficit it would offset, and Gregory said the School Committee would have that answer.
They have communicated publicly about the funding cliff that is fast approaching in fiscal year 2025.
Gregory initially recommended a 2.75% increase over last fiscal year, which the committee could budget for. They are currently drawing more from their school choice funding.
“They communicated as much at their meeting,” Gregory said.
Calandra asked what the additional funds would be used for if the School Committee has budgeted at a 2.75% increase. According to Gregory, the operating budget would be balanced for fiscal 2024, but it may require a draw on the reserves.
Member Eugenia Vineyard said the school choice could be depleted by FY 2025.
She noted the fact they have “pulled at least a million out of this budget” and suggested talking with the School Committee about their budget. Gregory added the School Committee is trying to transition about a $1 million worth of some of the ESSER COVID-19 grants onto the town budget as well.
Calandra noted there has been a practice for years of using school choice monies to cover budget deficits. He said the town does not get as much money as they send out.
“We’re deficit spending on school choice,” said Calandra.
He said they are benefitting from a reserve that he believed the town cannot pay for. Gregory agreed that “decisions needed to be made.”
Calandra believed that the town should use the surplus to cover the expense of sending kids out of district.
Gregory noted that if he has met his financial obligations on the municipal side that “he would try to help them as best I can.”