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School Committee Focuses on Athletic Fee Increase and Budgeting

Nipmuc Regional High School athletes will be paying more to play sports after the School Committee unanimously approved a hike in athletic fees.

A $20 per athlete/per sport increase was approved at the June 18 School Committee Meeting, raising athletic user fees from $175 to $195. School officials stated the increase in fees was due to an increase in transportation, game official fees, and coaches' salaries over the past few years.

"$175 does not provide us enough to cover all of the expenses to run the program," said Nipmuc Athletic Director Chris Schmidt to the School Committee. "$195 is a more accurate number to continue with the services we have today."

Additionally, a "good problem" to have is the number of Nipmuc teams are making it into to the post season, which means additional costs such as transportation. "We are a victim of our own successes," said Schmidt. Director of Finance and Business Jay Byer said that the district should look at the way they fund the athletic programs for both Nipmuc and Miscoe Hill, to see if there was a way to put more into the operational budget in the future.

"In reality, we do not fund out athletic programs in our operational budget the way that we should," he said. "This [the $20 increase in fees] is one thing that will help for next year, but we need to look at our athletic programs for both the high school and the middle school."

During the meeting, Byer also updated the Committee on the FY18 budget for a final time.

Byer said he is "cautiously optimistic" that the budget will come in exactly on plan with no major surpluses or shortfalls. Savings on the snow and ice removal line items this year were offset by a number of unanticipated building maintenance issues, according to Byer, but all in all the budget should be balanced at the close of the fiscal year.

During the previous meeting on June 4, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Maruszczak updated the Committee on the budget for next year, Fiscal Year 2019.

The "good news," he said, is that during the previous week, the Massachusetts Senate finalized their budget which included a regional transportation reimbursement increase to 80 percent, up from approximately 62 percent. According to Maruszczak, that would mean an additional $100,000 over the governor's budget for the Mendon Upton Regional School District. "It's forward progress, but we still have some challenges," said Maruszczak.

The $35,193,216 budget for FY19 included a $250,000 gap, one that the district will have to make up through some means. "We still have some variables such as retirements...we will close that gap," said Maruszczak. The next step for the budget is for the Massachusetts House and Senate to come together to finalize the budget, which as of July 2 was still under discussion. Districts are hoping that the proposed increase to regional transportation reimbursement will stick.

"[State] Senators [Michael] Moore and [Ryan] Fattman have been extremely supportive of this initiative," said Maruszczak.


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