Last night the Burbank PTA meeting was devoted to generating ideas for how to deal with the severe cuts that are in store for next year’s budget. Unfortunately no ideas were generated except for one: work to pass the override.
There is currently a $3 million gap between what the school administration considers level funding and what the Town says is available for the schools. In response, the school department has listed seven tiers of cuts that they are prepared to make. The tiers represent increasing severity of impact on the quality of education. But even those seven tiers do not total enough to bring the budget in line with expected funding, another $400,000 in cuts are necessary.
Here is a summary of how the administration prioritizes the budget from first cuts (Tier 2) to last resort cuts (Tier 7). Tier 1 comprises adjustments to previous calculations.
Tier 2: Equipment ($100K is still left in the budget for IT), supplies, advertising and recruitment, staff development and HS and MS printing expenses (which are reduced to 0 – no printing allowed). Also HS graduation expense is reduced to $6,000. The police officer who works inside the HS is cut ($28K).
Tier 3: Converting students activities to fee based. This includes K-5 instrumental music ($80K), all non-sport HS student activities ($70K) and all stipends for student activities ($150K). HS athletics are cut by $140K which still leaves about $300K for HS sports. Increase the bus user fee ($82.5K). Cut a secretary in the main office ($25K) and cut two campus monitors ($41K)
Tier 4: Kindergarten classroom assistants ($20K) and all library aides in all six schools ($105K). Also more cuts to supplies ($43K) and staff development ($27K) and about half the book budget ($63K).
Tier 5: Here is where teacher cuts begin: MCAS Math tutor, a guidance counselor, HS Social Studies, English and Art teachers ($127K) and Alice Melnikoff, the Community Service Coordinator ($63K). Also the rest of the book budget ($57K) – no new books at all.
Tier 6: More staff cuts: Middle school grade 7/8 English, Math, Science, Social Studies and Foreign Language ($244K), HS Science, Foreign Language and English ($159K), another guidance counselor (leaves 3 for the whole system, 2 of which are METCO).
Tier 7: Elementary staff cuts: One 5th Grade teacher, One teacher each at Burbank, Butler and Winn Brook and 3 at Wellington ($371K for all 7)
After the elementary staff cuts class sizes at the Burbank are projected to be 25 for Gr.4, 28 for Gr.3, 22 for Gr. 2, 19 for Gr. 1 and 19+ for K.
After the budget summary, School Committee member Anne Rittenburg listed the efforts that have been made to achieve costs savings so far:
- Looking at ways to achieve savings with the unions. The unions have agreed to meet with the School Committee next week.
- The public library has been approached about cooperating but they are not interested
- The recreation department has been approached about integrating HS athletics but they are not interested in doing it next year though they may consider it in the future
- Looking at ways to continue the Community Service program without a coordinator
- Looking at ways to provide staff development using internal resources
- Hoping for stimulus money, in particular funds for special needs students
No additional ideas were proposed at the meeting. Most discussion focused on the need to convince voters to pass the override and the Wellington debt exclusion.