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School Committee and Finance Committee Agree on FY07 Budget
Thursday, February 16, 2006

Following meetings throughout November, December, January, and the first part of February, the School Committee has recommended and the Finance Committee has approved a school budget appropriation of $28,407,893. This appropriation represents a sacrifice relative to level services, but more importantly allows us to preserve most of our educational program.

By making difficult cuts to the elementary specials (art, library, music, physical education, and technology), by reducing teaching positions at the Middle School, and by increasing fees on families for athletics and elementary music, we aim to avoid the dismantling (substantially increased class sizes, premature closing of an elementary school, athletic and extracurricular activity self-funding or cancellation) that a -8% budget resulting from a failed override would entail.

We look forward to explaining our budget proposal over the next two-plus months in order to help Wayland residents appreciate the value of the public school system that we are asking them to fund.

School Budget Details 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 cuts and added fees
    • Cuts
      • At the Middle School, remove 1.1 positions
      • At elementary school level, remove 2.85 specialist positions (~25% reduction)
      • Systemwide, eliminate sub caller and reduce business clerical hours
    • Fees
      • Increase METCO offset from $120k to $150k
      • Increase fee-based program offset (e.g., Children's Way, BASE) from $35k to $50k: +$15k
      • Expect increase in SPED circuit breaker funds from $30k to $50k: +$20k
      • Increase athletic fees (HS: $125/season to $200, MS: $50 to $100): +54K
      • Increase lunch fees by $0.50 to cover benefits and $0.25 to cover lunchroom monitoring: +$44k
      • New elementary instrumental music fee ($150/user): +$53k
  3. Net result: recommended budget $293,000 below "level services" guideline
    • This amount includes $193k in cuts proposed by the School Committee in light of the town's difficult financial position plus $100k in a reduced utility cost projection imposed by the Finance Committee.
Philosophically, the School Committee opposes any service level reductions in a public school system that has seen 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 above.

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 reduction in elementary specials and the dramatic increase in fees borne by families with children in the schools. These cuts and fees go against the very notion of a public education, which by any reasonable definition includes not just pure academics, but also art, library, music, physical education, and technology on the one hand and athletics, performing arts, and other extracurricular activities on the other 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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