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School Committee Recommends FY07 Budget
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

In meetings on January 9, 12, 17, and 23, the School Committee and the Superintendent discussed, debated, and arrived at a recommended FY07 budget for submission to the Finance Committee on January 30. On Thursday, February 2, in the Middle School Auditorium at 8:00pm, the School Committee will hold a public budget forum to make a presentation and hear questions and comments from the public.

The contents of the recommended FY07 budget are outlined below.
  1. Start with FY06 (current year) budget
    • Add contractually obligated increases in salary, steps, and lanes (net of retirements)
    • Increase utilities and transportation
    • Increase Special Education
    • Consolidate elementary classes due to enrollment decrease: 60 instead of 63 sections
  2. Result is "level services" budget; next, consider program changes
    • Retain swimming and ski teams
    • Restore K-5 math/science position recently removed from budget
    • Remove 1.5 FTEs at the Middle School
    • At elementary level, use two teachers instead of three for all specials
    • Systemwide, eliminate sub caller and reduce business clerical hours
  3. Examine new fees and other offsets
    • Increase METCO offset from $120k to $150k
    • Increase fee-based program offset (e.g., Children's Way, BASE) from $35k to $50k
    • Expect increase in SPED circuit breaker funds from $30k to $50k
    • No one-time draw on building rental revolving fund: $10k to $0
    • No one-time draw on school lunch revolving fund: $50k to $0
    • No one-time draw on Gossels fund: $25k to $0
    • Increase athletic fees (HS: $125/season to $200, MS: $50 to $100): $145k to $200k
    • Increase lunch fees by $0.50 to cover benefits and $0.25 to cover lunchroom monitoring
    • Realize less parking revenue than expected: $36k to $30k
    • Realize less activity fees at HS and MS than expected: $50k to $30k
    • New elementary instrumental music fee ($150/user): $53k
  4. Net result: recommended budget $230,000 below Finance Committee's "level services" guideline
    • "Level services" guideline was developed early in the process before all contractually obligated increases (most notably, special education) were known by the schools, meaning that this guideline is actually low of level services by $100,000 to $200,000 or more
  5. The changes above result in the following REDUCTIONS in public education services
    • Increase in some class sizes at HS (no change in staff despite increasing enrollment)
    • Increase in some class sizes at MS (reduced staff despite increasing enrollment)
    • Increase in some class sizes at ES
    • Increased workload for elementary specialists (art, library, music, PE) 
    • Increased athletic fees: $125/season to $200 at HS, $50 to $100 at MS
    • New elementary instrumental music fee: $150
    • Increased METCO offset (reduces programs that METCO can offer)
    • Increased lunch prices: $0.50 for covering benefits, $0.25 for covering lunchroom monitoring
    • Elimination of sub-caller
    • Reduction in business office clerical hours
Philosophically, the School Committee opposes any service level reductions in a public school system that has little in the way of budget increases over the past few years aimed at expanding the educational program. Instead of the "holding pattern" of recent years, the recommended budget for FY07 represents a "back-tracking" as outlined in Section 5, above.

While a small but significant back-tracking is reluctantly recommended by the committee, it is of critical importance to note that additional cuts of a sizable nature will constitute the beginnings of a real dismantling of the public school system. Already, we are edging along a downward slope. Ahead of us, that slope steepens dramatically towards a cliff-edge.

The committee recommends the back-tracking embodied by the recommended FY07 budget in recognition of the difficult financial situation facing the town. That said, Wayland's residents must not be lulled into thinking that by approving the recommended budget, that there will not be some small harm to the system.

Most notably, the committee is concerned about the dramatic increase in fees borne by families with children in the schools. These fees cut against the very notion of a public education, which by any reasonable definition includes not just pure academics, but also athletics, performing arts, and other extracurricular activities that contribute so fundamentally to what it means to be not just an educated adult, but also an adult with the civil, social, and leadership skills and perspective demanded by the contemporary world.

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