On June 27, the School Committee unanimously (with seven members attending) approved a new budget number of $29,739,424 for the 2017-2018 school year. While lower than the budget previously certified by the committee, the new budget fully funds the Strategic Plan/Prioritized Budget.
What the Prioritized Budget would achieve
The prioritized budget is the first step in implementing the district’s Strategic Plan. Among its many goals, the plan would:
✓ Hire classroom teachers
✓ Reduce elementary class sizes
✓ Increase courses offered at Oakmont Regional High school
✓ Hire a certified librarian for Oakmont Regional High school
✓ Staff middle and elementary school libraries
✓ Update technology equipment
✓ Hire Digital Learning Instructors
✓ Purchase science materials
✓ Restore clubs, activities, and sports teams
✓ Maintain current user fee amounts
The new budget now goes back to the towns.
- Ashburnham: a Special Town Meeting will take place on July 18 for the solitary item of proposing a revised override referendum ballot. If approved, the ballot will take place on August 8.
Absentee Ballots will be available (deadline to register TBD) and the deadline to register to vote (if you’re not registered already) is TBD. Watch here for updates.
- Westminster: since the town approved the override on June 20th, no further action is required until fall town meeting, when the town’s appropriation will be adjusted to reflect the new, lower number.
Why the Lower Number?
With the end of the school year, Superintendent Gary Mazzola and Business Administrator Julie Surprenant were able to identify $250,000 in savings.
- When the health insurance open enrollment period for staff closed in mid-June, 9 employees came off family plans and 3 came off individual plans, resulting in savings for the district.
- The final health insurance renewal came in at 1.5% less than budgeted because the Insurance Advisory Committee accepted an increase in co-pays.
- The performance contract at Overlook and Oakmont (building upgrades, especially new pellet boilers) resulted in higher than anticipated savings in heating costs.
In addition, the district anticipates receiving more in Chapter 70, Transportation, and Charter Reimbursement funding from the state. As a result, the district’s assessment to each town is lower.
Now that the Ashburnham Board of Selectmen has decided to move forward with a re-vote, we are be looking for help from all SOCS members to once again get out the vote. Stay tuned for more information, but make note of these important dates:
- July 18 Special Town Meeting
- August 8 Ballot