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Proposed FY14 School Budget to Increase by 2.06 Percent

Mendon Upton Regional School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Maruszczak gave a detailed presentation of the initial Fiscal Year 2014 budget projection at the January 28 School Committee Meeting. Maruszczak said the proposed budget, which would maintain the district's current programs and staff while including some "targeted investments" for the district, including "very reasonable, very conservative" increase of $576,969 or 2.06 percent increase for a total of $28.6 million.

Those "targeted investments" include the implementation of a universal full-day Kindergarten program at the elementary schools and the reinstatement of the Curriculum Director position in the district.

Maruszczak cited the many benefits of adding the full-day Kindergarten program into the district, including early intervention for struggling learners, the increased demands of the common core standards the district will be moving to, and the competitive advantage the district would benefit from this investment. "The initiative eventually pays for itself," said Maruszczak. Adding a full day program would involve hiring two additional full time teachers at salaries equating to $110,000.

Maruszczak said that the budget also includes reinstating the Curriculum Director position back to the district, at a cost of an additional $85,000. The position would be responsible for the effective coordination of curriculum from grades K-12, the transition to the common core standards, professional development, and grant writing.

Maruszczak also outlined the other drivers for the overall increase. These drivers include a 1.25 percent cost-of-living increase for teachers, paraprofessionals, and administrative assistants equating to $428,887; a 2 percent increase in health care equating to $70,600; a 2.9 percent increase in transportation costs equating to $37,800 (after a $50,000 reduction due to the elimination of mid-day bussing for half-day kindergarten students); a 13 percent increase in special education, mostly associated with out-of-district placements equating to $408,340; a $30,000 increase for an additional English Language Learner tutor; and an additional $20,000 to reinstate a part-time Resource Officer at Clough and Miscoe.

Maruszczak also said that administrators and the budget committee have been able to find expense savings on a few line items including a $94,000 reduction in utilities due to the renegotiation of electricity contracts and the conversion from oil to gas heat at the Clough and Memorial buildings.

The overall $28,575,228.97 proposed FY14 budget would be an increase of local contribution of $162,823 or 2.34 percent from Mendon and of $310,641 or 3.69 percent from the Upton over fiscal 2013.

Maruszczak said that the goals they kept in mind while developing the FY14 budget were maintaining the forward momentum that the district has gained in the past fiscal year, enhancing and improving educational programming through a few key targeted investments, continuing to maximize efficiencies, and effectuating a multi-year approach to the budget going forward.

Maruszczak cautioned that this was still just a "first pass" at the budget and that there was still a great deal of variability on both the expense and revenue side going forward.

The School Committee will be conducting its annual Open Budget Hearing on March 18, and the budget will be brought to Mendon Town Meeting on May 3 and the Upton Town Meeting on May 9.


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