To move the school district forward, Andover’s school department argues that it needs up to $2.2 million more than what’s being allocated to it by the town manager for next year.
That was the message Superintendent Marinel McGrath put before the Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen last Wednesday, March 6.
To start the budget process this year, Town Manager Buzz Stapczynski allocated a $68 million budget for the schools, up 3.3 percent over last year’s $65.9 million budget. To date, school officials have said that increase doesn’t cover compliance, contract and statutory requirements faced by the school district, even with expense cuts already factored in.
In her budget presentation, McGrath said that “one’s budget reflects what one’s values are, and budgeting becomes a lot easier when we can define our values and align our spending with those values.”
Two budget proposals are currently going forward: one to provide “level services” that satisfy the district’s compliance requirements and statutory needs, and the other to support the first steps of McGrath’s Strategic Plan initiatives going into next year.
Both also represent a number of new hires. The “level services” budget proposes added a combined 21.97 full-time equivalent positions, spread out over 33 either new or increased positions. The increases are largely driven by new government mandates and shifting enrollment needs, according to McGrath. That budget reflects a $1.35 million increase beyond the town’s allocation, up to $69.4 million.
The Strategic Plan budget adds another 13.05 FTE requests, scattered throughout 18 different positions. Included are 2.5 FTE hires for digital learning specialists in four schools, 2.75 FTE hires for music programming at the middle schools, 4.5 FTE hires at the high school to combat classroom sizes and program advisers for fine arts, social studies and English. That budget reflects a $2.2 million increase over Stapczynski’s allocation, up to $70.3 million.