By Dustin Luca
---- — Two versions of the school budget for next fiscal year are being discussed by school leaders. School officials say one version has the district moving forward while investing “modestly in our Strategic Plan,” and one has no such investments but a commitment to provide level services similar to this year.
Either way, the schools department needs more than has been allocated to it by Town Manager Buzz Stacpzynski, school officials have indicated.
Though briefly mentioned at a Monday School Committee meeting, the school budget also reflects a $30 increase for athletic user fees to “provide for a JV Girls Ice Hockey team if, in fact, we had a minimum of 16 participants” for the team, School Superintendent Marinel McGrath said. “If we have 16 participants, we need to bring this particular team forward so we are in compliance with (law).”
The increase will bring the user fee paid by families to $380 per student, with a family maximum of $750, McGrath said.
In a presentation to the School Committee Monday, McGrath said the budget serves as “a road map for addressing the needs of every child, every day in every way.”
The focus of the presentation was on providing level services to address those needs. This is a budget that allows the district to “deliver the same services next year, including all contractual increases, compliance, enrollment, and inflationary factors that affect these level services, that we are delivering today,” according to McGrath’s presentation.
Depending on the level of state funding received by Andover, the gap between Stapczynski’s $68 million allocation and the superintendent’s budget is between $850,000 and $2.2 million.
The school system’s presentation also highlighted what needs would go unfunded without its suggested investments in the district’s Strategic Plan. These areas that would not be included, according to the Andover Public Schools recommended budget, are:
A fifth day of world language instruction for middle school students;
A world language program start-up for elementary school students;
Band and orchestra teachers for elementary school students;
Math coaches at the elementary school level; and
Additional social workers at the elementary school level.
The budget document states that teachers throughout the system would “address higher-than-desirable class sizes.”
“It’s important to share with you and the community what needs are unfunded at this time, because it’s important to note that because a need goes unfunded, it doesn’t mean that the need has gone away,” McGrath said to the School Committee.
The presentation was scheduled to go before the Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen last night, Wednesday, after Townsman deadline. For details on that meeting, visit andovertownsman.com starting Thursday.