The Watertown School schools have a little over $100,000 left in next year’s budget after preserving the current staffing and programs, the School Committee heard last week.
Director of Finance and Operations Heidi Perkins presented the level-service budget last week, which would be $53.75 million including a 3.5 percent increase in funding from the Town. That amount does not include other funds such as state special education circuit breaker money, which will add about half of the increase that makes the total budget $57 million.
While the budget will go up by about $1.8 million, Perkins said that only six percent of that will be available for new proposals. The level-service budget, however, does include some new positions.
The positions include those that the district has previously committed to adding:
- Director of Diversity and Belonging (also known as Director of Equity and Inclusion), with a salary range of $115-125,000
- 3 building-based substitutes at Watertown Middle School (less than 20 hours a week), $47,088
- Engineering teacher for the new Chapter 74 Career/Vocational Technical Education program, $75,712
- Medical assisting teacher for the second semester to help plan for the new Chapter 74 program, $37,856
The undesignated money after the “level service” is covered is about $104,000, Perkins said. Principals and department heads put in their requests for what to do with the remaining money, and the requests were ranked. Some of the top items are additional custodians for the new, bigger Cunniff and Hosmer elementary schools, a kindergarten teacher, and a help desk technician to help the district with the IT network.
Perkins said she believes a couple other items — the BrainPop educational software and musical instruments — can be paid for with money left over at the end of Fiscal Year 2021 in June.
The budget anticipates $1.7 million in salary increases in FY22. Many of those are due to step increases given to employees in their contracts. Also, a larger number of teachers than most years qualified for lane changes in the contract given for taking college classes, Perkins said, because so many people took online classes over the past year.
Another significant increase is expected in the tuition for students going to Minuteman High School. The district pays the cost for these students, both students attending the vocational program and those in the Minuteman special education program. The tuition has not been set yet, Perkins said, but she has budgeted for a 2 percent increase. The education budget also includes funding to transport students to the school in Lexington. It is not yet known if one or two buses will be needed, but the budget has funding for two.
“We won’t know until April when we finish with kids being accepted and with how the budget lands,” Perkins said.
The next steps in the budget process are for the Superintendent to develop and present a Recommended Budget, which will then be reviewed and deliberated over by the School Committee’s Budget and Finance Subcommittee. Finally, the School Committee will discuss and adopt the final budget that will be presented to the Town Administration and Town Council in the spring.
See the documents from the budget presentation by clicking here.