14 Jun School Budget Increase Proposed (MA)June 14, 2010
By: Alix RoySource: Boston.com
The Somerville school district needs a 2.93 percent budget increase to provide level services in fiscal 2011, which starts July 1, according to Superintendent Tony Pierantozzi.
In a presentation to School Committee members on Thursday, Pierantozzi presented the details of his proposed $49.15 million budget, which avoids layoffs through reorganization and attrition (retirements and resignations) while preserving services. The School Committee will vote on the budget on Monday.
“I’m pleased to stand before you and say we are not cutting anything,” he said. “We might be trimming some things, we might be shifting costs, but we’re not cutting anything.”
To make up for expected decreases in revenue including grant funding and Chapter 70 money, Pierantozzi proposed transferring the cost of certain positions while reorganizing certain departments and taking advantage of retirements and resignations. Altogether, the district will cut 12 salaries from its local budget without affecting services, he said.
The district will also save money by decreasing its substitute teacher account, a move made possible by increased teacher attendance that came as a result of a conversation with the Somerville Teachers Association, Pierantozzi said.
“Our teacher attendance is up,” he said. “It’s really teamwork, and I’m really pleased about that.”
The budget includes the use of $1.64 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to retain special education teachers and preserve the MCAS remediation program while investing in literacy and math coaching, technology, and staff development. This is the last year that the ARRA funds will be available, Pierantozzi said.
Many parents in the audience on Thursday were relieved to see a level-services budget that preserved teaching and administrative positions. Last year, the district was forced to cut $1.1 million from its budget.
“Mr. Pierantozzi proposing a level-services budget is such a relief and so encouraging,” said Brown School PTA president and parent Carol Perris. “What a different atmosphere from 365 days ago.”
Others were vehement in their support for the preservation of a full-time vice-principal position at West Somerville Neighborhood School, encouraging the committee to retain the position in its final budget proposal.
“I know what happens behind closed doors, when you really start delving in and looking at the budget,” said one parent, who refused to be placated by the initial document’s inclusion of the full-time position. “Please don’t eliminate positions, we can’t go forward if we take steps backward.”
The School Committee will vote on the budget at a meeting on Monday at 6 p.m. in the third floor conference room of City Hall. Pierantozzi will then present the committee’s budget to the Board of Alderman on June 22.