The Watertown Public Schools will be getting an increase next year, but parents at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting said it is not enough.
Town Manger Michael Driscoll presented the Fiscal 2015 budget, but the item of interest for most in the standing room only Council Chamber was the education budget.
The budget of $38.94 million is a $2.267 million increase – 6.18 percent – more than the Fiscal 2014 figure. This is more than the 3 percent projected in the draft budget Driscoll presented in October, but below the 16.81 percent requested by the School Committee and school staff.
Several parents spoke during a public forum period expressing disappointment about the budget figure.
“We need the funds now, not three years from now, or five years or 10 years,” said parent Kate Coyne.
While almost all the parents and residents said they want to see more money for the schools, one person stood up to support the Town Council. John Airasian, a former School Committee member and a founding member of the Watertown Education Foundation, said he believes the schools still do a good job.
“I think the ask here (from the School Committee) is unprecedented,” Airasian said. “It seems you guys (on the Town Council) are being made bad guys because you are not funding the schools enough. That’s not the case.”
Driscoll also announced some one-time funds for school programs, including $750,000 for one-time curriculum initiatives, Driscoll said.
He also proposed two additions to the current budget – $210,000 for $210,000 for one-time curriculum initiatives and $750,000 to establish a special education stabilization fund to be used to avoid using regular education dollars on special education.
(Follow Watertown News for more info on the Fiscal 2015 budget).