School budget cuts looming in Springfield
By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | November 16,2012
SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield School District has a tough road ahead: It must approve a balanced budget for Town Meeting Day without going over the state-mandated threshold for per pupil spending.
School district administrators presented preliminary budget numbers at a joint meeting between the Springfield School Board and budget committee on Tuesday.
Superintendent of Schools Frank Perotti said the committee was tasked by the School Board to start the budget process early.
The school district requested $30.2 million for fiscal year ’14, a $2.6 million increase or 9.4 percent from this year’s budget of $27.6 million. An increase was requested to keep up with several costs related to education, health care, teacher’s salaries and construction projects.
Although the school district is requesting more money for next year, it faces another dilemma. The proposed budget would put the school district’s spending over the state’s excess per pupil spending limit.
According to Perotti, if a district exceeds the excess spending threshold, it must pay double the tax rate. The threshold is set at 125 percent of the prior year’s state average per pupil spending.
The state’s average education spending for the current year is $12,365 per pupil. According to Steve Hier, Springfield School District business manager, the proposed budget would be $15,456 per pupil, which is $3,091 more than the state’s average.
To meet the threshold, Perotti and Hier said the school district would need to cut $1.7 million in school services. All schools in the district would be affected by the budget cuts.
The Springfield School District is comprised of Elm Hill Primary School, Union Elementary School, Riverside Middle School, Springfield High School and special education programs.
Elm Hill Primary School could face $226,250 in budget cuts according to the proposal. Those could include cuts in technology equipment such as laptops, purchasing PCs instead of Macs and no wireless Internet access. In addition a full-time teacher and a full-time instructional coach could be cut along with team leaders, consultants and supplemental reading materials.
Union Elementary could face $184,700 in budget cuts. Those could include laptops cuts, curriculum cuts and purchasing PCs instead of Macs. Staffing cuts could include eliminating team leaders, an instructional coach and full- and part-time teachers.
Riverside Middle School could face $133,000 in budget cuts. Those could include two part-time teachers, a quarter-time library clerk, a part-time nurse, department chairs, instructional equipment, sports and curriculum work.
Springfield High School could face $47,000 in budget cuts. Those could include a reduction in technology equipment, a quarter-time teacher and curriculum work.
Other cost reductions could include $14,950 in special education, $883,000 in deferred capital projects and $225,600 in miscellaneous costs such as technology programs, pre-K tuition, substitute pay increases and a full-time behavioral coordinator.
Perotti emphasized the numbers were preliminary and subject to change. The budget was turned back over to the budget committee who will go over the numbers and make recommendations.
“Here in lies the challenge for the budget committee and the School Board,” Perotti said. “This has been a challenge more difficult than in recent years. There is a great deal of work ahead and the outcome is of extreme importance as the effects on our education community will be felt for a long time.”
The budget committee’s next meeting is Nov. 26.