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WVN #71: Proposed FY06 School Budget $27.8 Million

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  • waylandvoters2
    Wayland Voters Network February 1, 2005 Dear Wayland Voter, The following report on the School Committee meeting on Monday, Jan. 24, 2005, was written by WVN
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2005
      Wayland Voters Network
      February 1, 2005

      Dear Wayland Voter,

      The following report on the School Committee meeting on Monday, Jan.
      24, 2005, was written by WVN subscriber Tom Sciacca. The School
      Department's FY06 budget will be approved at the next School
      Committee meeting, Monday, Feb. 7, School Committee Meeting Room,
      Town Building, 7:30 p.m.


      On January 24, at its regular meeting, the School Committee met with
      the Finance Committee to discuss its FY06 (starts July 2005) budget
      proposal. Ultimately, the FY06 budget requests for all departments
      will be presented to April's Annual Town Meeting. In addition, voters
      in April's Annual Town Election will consider whether or not to
      approve a tax override ballot question to cover a portion of the
      increase over last year's budget.

      The School Department's total proposed FY06 operating budget of
      $27,816,428 is up 6.4%, or $1,682 million over the current year
      budget. Offsetting this is an additional $191,000 in user fees and
      transfers accrued in a variety of ways reluctantly proposed by
      Superintendent Gary Burton, such as higher sports fees and a new
      $1/day parking fee at the high school. The Finance Committee
      guideline was for a 4% increase, already far higher than the current
      general inflation rate.

      In explaining the reasons for his requested budget increase of 6.4%,
      Burton pointed to the need for two new teachers at Claypit Hill
      elementary school because the student distribution has pushed some
      classes over the size guidelines, even though the school population
      as a whole has actually decreased by one student. In addition, he
      proposes to hire two more teachers at the high school to deal with
      the combined two-year increase of 37 students. Two new positions not
      driven by population increase are also proposed, an Academic Center
      teacher at the high school and a new reading teacher at the
      elementary level. Although never approved by the voters, these
      positions were actually already created in the current fiscal year by
      the School Committee, which managed to find the funds in its existing
      budget in spite of claims of bare adequacy in its current budget.

      More than half the budget increase, however, is due to salary
      increases negotiated with four labor unions. For this year the unions
      accepted a 1% increase, but it is 3.5% next year and the following

      Burton commented that he will wait until the last minute to actually
      hire new teachers to be sure the expected children will actually show
      up. Asked whether that compromised his ability to find good teachers,
      he said, "There're always more people who want work in Wayland than
      there are positions to fill." Apparently this applies even to the
      high school openings, despite earlier warnings of inability to
      attract teachers to the aging physical plant.

      Burton also mentioned that in his ten years as Wayland Superintendent
      he has now hired more than half the staff, so he is now primarily
      responsible for the quality of instruction in Wayland's schools. He
      has hired primarily younger teachers, who are less expensive than the
      experienced retirees they are replacing but are also less reliable.
      They have a much higher rate of absenteeism for such things as
      maternity leave.

      A Finance Committee member asked about Special Education, and whether
      Sped students are given whatever they ask for or only what the law
      requires. Burton said the children are given only what the law
      requires and the parents have to work to get that much. His written
      report says, "I think the School Committee knows that our special
      education programs and services are unusually well managed. Costs for
      all services are reviewed, analyzed, and challenged on a frequent

      Regarding the capital budget, which will also be presented at Annual
      Town Meeting, Burton mentioned $355,000 for two modular science labs
      to deal with the increased high school population and obsolescence of
      the existing labs, and money for a new roof for the Happy Hollow gym.

      Finance Committee chair Bob Lentz said that "the override number is
      getting bigger as we sit here," now approaching $2 million, or 6%,
      largely because of legal fees, pension, and medical insurance
      costs. "We want it to pass," he said. "We've got to get pretty active
      about pitching the override, so I'm looking for data," he continued,
      as he pressed for information about how much of the increase requests
      are mandated by such things as contractual obligations, and how costs
      compare historically. Referring to the 4% increase guideline, Lentz
      said, "Our intent was to provide enough to support contractual and
      mandated stuff."

      Thank you for reading this WVN newsletter. Please forward it to your
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      Wayland Voters Network
      Margo Melnicove, Chair
      Michael Short, Treasurer
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