Framingham schools propose $91.4 million budget

Framingham schools propose $91.4 million budget Tuesday, March 26, 2008
John Hilliard 508-626-4449 Metrowest Daily News
Running the town's school system could get costlier next year, according to a proposed 10 percent budget hike Superintendent Gene Thayer outlined for fiscal 2009 to the School Committee last night.

The proposed budget of nearly $91.4 million would be about $8.4 million more than this year's $83 million schools budget.

Salaries are anticipated to rise by slightly more than 5 percent next year, for a total of nearly $63.5 million, while special education costs will increase more than 11 percent. Last year, unexpected special education costs led to the town pouring more than $1 million into the schools to balance the education budget.

In fiscal 2009, officials estimate about $3 million in offsets, including fees from athletics, transportation and other programs. That figure also includes nearly $2.5 million in state reimbursements for special ed costs.

Thayer also showed a separate budget that would maintain existing services, but cost increases in that plan would still total about $7.2 million. The town's guideline for cost increases was about $4 million.

"Obviously, there is a difference between what the town has appropriated, and what we need to maintain level service," said Thayer.

He said school and town administrators are developing a priority list for school expenses that will be presented to the School Committee.

The School Committee didn't vote on any fiscal 2009 budget last night, and Thayer said the proposals do not contain any unnecessary spending.

"It's what you need to run the school district. It's not a wish list," he said.

Neither budget included filling now-vacant posts, among them an assistant superintendent of schools, a director of technology, more social workers, an assistant principal at Walsh Middle School, additional staff and new programs.

He said a tax override for fiscal 2010 may be needed to maintain the town's school system, and residents should start thinking about a tax increase to help support the school's services.

School board member Adam Blumer said a bill filed in the Legislature would allow communities to impose an exemption for seniors within a specific income level from tax increases.

Caesar Monzon rejected talk of a tax hike.

"I would not support an override now or in the future," he said.

In perhaps a small sign of the schools' fiscal obstacles, a paper cup left to collect donations of loose change from meeting-goers that typically holds a couple of coins was stuffed to the brim with dollar bills last night.

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