Schools Superintendent: This is the True Cost of Running a District

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The School Committee got the final recommended budget from school staff, and Superintendent Jean Fitzgerald said it is the amount required to run the district and educate students the way she believes is right.

The total amount recommended is $46.48 million for the 2014-15 school year (Fiscal 2015). With about 3.5 million offset by grants and other funds, the town’s share would be about $43 million – or about $6 million more than the previous year.

“This is the true cost of running a school district,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re at the tipping point. The question is what type of education to provide our kids.”

The increase would be more than 16 percent. Town Manager Michael Driscoll has recommended a four percent increase for all departments in Watertown, both municipal and school.

School officials will go to the Town Council to present their budget later this month. The school’s budget must be approved by the Council.

School Committee member John Portz said the increase will be difficult to get.

“Politically this is a big number, ” Portz said. “For the entire town, everyone including the schools, the (amount set aside for) increase is $4 million. We are asking for $6 million.”

School Committee member Elizabeth Yusem said the number is helpful.

“I want to know what the professionals think,” Yusem said. “I wanted to hear what the children need, and identify what’s the true cost for every child to thrive.”

Fitzgerald said she understands the number is big, but she said she wouldn’t be doing her job if she did not present it.

“This is what we really need to moved the district forward the way we would like it to go,” Fitzgerald said.

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