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Budget Process in Early Stages

Following a hotly contested budget process for fiscal year 2011, the Mendon Upton School Committee is starting now to get a handle on the revenue figures and expenditures for the fiscal year 2012 budget. According to School Superintendent Antonio Fernandes speaking at the School Committee meeting on January 24, the budget sub-committee will start meeting at the end of January to formulate the budget for the fiscal year 2012 budget. Fernandes said Governor Patrick released his budget for next year on Wednesday, January 26. Patrick is cutting local aid but has added $140 million to the Chapter 70 funding for the state's schools.

Fernandes noted an increase in state aid for next year, might help keep the teachers that were hired back in 2010 with the Massachusetts stimulus money. Even with this positive news, Fernandes explained that overall the district is still expecting less money than fiscal year 2011, which will likely cause another shortfall in next year's budget. More information will be available at the next School Committee Meeting.

Fernandes told members of the School Committee on January 24 that because of the frigid temperatures a heating unit in one of the classrooms at Nipmuc Regional High School leaked, saturating the Art Room along with other spaces in the building. Unfortunately some student portfolio work was ruined and art supplies were damaged beyond repair. Student Representative Emma Alcott explained that an inventory has been done listing the damaged items. Students and teachers hope to reach out to the community to replace these items.

Also on January 24, Fernandes noted that the MSBA Green Repair Program grant to replace the roof, boiler and windows at Miscoe Hill School is currently in a holding pattern. Fernandes is working with the State but there are still some questions that need to be answered including the district's plan to roll the up front costs for architectural firm into the total cost covered by the grant. The state pre-qualifies firms districts can use to expedite the project but officials are unclear if the up front costs can be included in the project total for the grant. Fernandes estimates the entire cost of the project will be around $600,000, with the state grant paying for half the total. Mendon and Upton residents will need to fund the remainder of the project.

Everyone on the school committee is keeping their fingers crossed for better weather during the next few months. Due to the unusual amount of snow days in January the School Committee is beginning to consider how to meet the state required 180 days this school year. If the snow keeps falling, the committee members are considering shortening the April Vacation week or having students in school on Good Friday. Right now the last day of school is scheduled for June 20. If the predictions for more stormy weather continue through the winter, schools in Mendon and Upton could remain open during the last week of June. Nothing has been done as of yet and the situation is being monitored and they're hoping not to make those changes. The School Committee meets again on February 14.




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