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MURSD Presents First Pass Budget; 1.59% Increase

The Superintendent of the Mendon Upton Regional School District Dr. Joseph Maruszczak, presented an initial "modest and conservative" budget for the FY2017 school year during the February 22 School Committee Meeting.

"The state of our district is very, very strong," said Maruszczak. "Over the last three to four budget cycles we have accomplished quite a bit through the generous support of our communities."

The proposed $32,344,137 budget reflects a $505,156 increase, or 1.59 percent, over Fiscal Year 2016, the current 2015-2016 school year.

"This is a modest, conservative budget which will maintain level services for the district with some smart, targeted investments," said Maruszczak.

A large driver of the $500,000 increase, according to Maruszczak, is an estimated 10 percent increase in health insurance, $382,000, as well as an increase in the Worcester County Retirement assessment, $56,000, for employees who are not part of the state retirement system. Although the health insurance costs have not been locked in yet, Maruszczak said the estimated increase is a "conservative" number based on the fact that there hasn't been a significant increase on that line item in some years.

Along with Health Insurance, other cost increases for FY17 include a contractual cost of living adjustment (COLA) for staff of 1.5 percent, $143,000; a 1.9 percent increase in transportation, $30,000; and additional funding of the district's 1:1 iPad program, $40,000.

On the savings side, Maruszczak said that the district is expecting to see a reduction in Special Education transportation of $5,000; a 12 percent, or $58,000, decrease in electricity costs; and a $85,000 reduction in textbook costs for all four schools due to the Reading Wonders Program being paid off this current year.

State aid may also increase by over $90,000 as the Governor's initial budget shows an increase in Chapter 70 funding of $20 per student, $56,000, and a slight improvement in Net Charter spending, $28,000.

The proposed budget also includes using $100,000 from the district's E&D (Excess and Deficiency) account, down from $250,000 in the current year.

Funding will also come from the two towns, with Mendon's minimum local contribution (MLC) at $163,000, an increase of 1.9 percent from this year, and Upton's at $348,000, an increase of 3.47 percent. According to Maruszczak, the disparity between the two communities is driven by a number of factors including the number of students enrolling in the Regional School District as well as in Blackstone Valley Regional Technical High School, and how quickly each town is progressing towards the percentage the state has calculated as a town's MLC, or its target share.

"I think we have been successful in building a sound budget that supports our strategic plan," said Maruszczak. "I am very confident that this very conservative budget continues that forward momentum."

The budget will be presented again at the Open Budget Hearing on March 14, where it will be certified. The certified budget will then be presented to the two towns for approval at their respective Annual Town Meetings – Upton's on May 5 and Mendon's on May 6.


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