Superintendent Dede Galdston presented a $48 million budget to the School Committee that would include a $2.2 million (4.9 percent) increase over the current school year and would add some positions but also eliminate some positions on the book without any layoffs.
The Fiscal 2019 (2018-19 School Year) increase fits within the 5 percent funding increase that Town Manager Michael Driscoll has put in the overall Town Budget for education.
“Watertown is very generous with it schools,” Galdston said. “A 5 percent increase is phenomenal.”
The School Budget would need an increase of 4.1 percent would provide “level services” for the Watertown Public Schools, leaving $414,500 for new initiatives, but Galdston rearranged and restructure items in the budget to make another $734,000 available for new initiatives. Of the increases, about $1.1 million are from increases in salary and other compensation.
New positions added to the budget include eight full-time positions and eight part-time positions. To do so there will be the equivalent of 13 full-time positions removed from the budget.
The new positions include:
• Assistant Principal at Lowell Elementary School
• Second Grade Teacher at Hosmer Elementary School
• Community Outreach Social Worker to work with at-risk students and families, monitor and respond to attendance concerns, serve as homeless liaison, assist with SEL implementation, and provide other student support
• 2 Special Education Teachers, one at Cunniff Elementary School one at Watertown High School
The eliminated positions are either not currently filled, the current person is retiring, or will be incorporated into other positions.
Another increase will be $200,000 for additional text and materials, which will be put into reading materials.
School Committee Vice Chair Kendra Foley said she was impressed with how the School Administration made it clear how the made the budget.
“We had fiver budget meetings and I was most impressed that they put together strategic objectives, and there are clear through lines from the objectives to to what the recommended,” Foley said.
Galdston said theres are several major drivers for the budget.
One is maintaining “appropriate and effective” class sizes at all levels.
Also, to continue to implement and grow the following programs and initiatives:
- Foreign Language in Elementary School
- Later start times
- Social/Emotional Learning curriculum adoption
- Universal screening and progress monitoring assessment system
- Curriculum mapping, K-12
- Project-Based Learning at the Secondary Level
- PowerSchool technology platform
There is also a two-tiered effort to work on school buildings, she said.
“On the one hand we are thinking about the school buildings in the future (the school building project), but in the interim we need to make sure we are taking care of the buildings for the students now,” Galdston said.
The School Committee will vote to approve the budget at a special meeting on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber in Town Hall, 149 Main St., Watertown.
See the entire school budget book by clicking here.