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ELPS: A budget for tough times

Date: 2/16/2009

By Dr. Edward Costa II, Superintendent of Schools

East Longmeadow Public Schools understands the current economic climate. We have spent the last four months building the school department budget for next year (2009-2010). We all watch the same nightly news, read the same economic news of Wall Street and worry about our own Main Street.

The town of East Longmeadow has always been known for their support for public education. We are a child-centered community. Therefore, the School Committee has approved a budget for next year. Think of it as our very own East Longmeadow school "stimulus package." Our submitted budget does the following:

• No planned increases in lunch prices -- even though our food vendors have raised their prices over the year.

• No increases in athletic fees to students -- even though our supply costs have gone up three to five percent. Our athletic fee will remain the same as this year.

• No planned increases in our full-day kindergarten tuition. East Longmeadow has charged $2,650 for the last five years so that five-year olds can enjoy a full-day program. We will keep it the same.

• No planned increases in faculty and staff -- even though we continue to register new students in our schools. We will not increase our staff by a single person for next year. In fact, we reduced several positions this year!

• No planned increases in supply budgets -- even though the supplies like paper and etc. have increased by seven percent over the past year.

• No planned increases in programs -- even though many parents would love to see new and innovative programs we don't have. Next year is not the year to spend money we don't have.

The budget the School Committee has approved, through hard work, school councils and administration, was submitted to our town last month. Our entire budget has a total increase of 1.8 percent. This increase simply keeps all existing staff, with no reductions. In other words, this is a level services budget. Nothing new, nothing added. We did review every budget item, every category and every line item to try and get the most efficient way of doing business in our industry.

During the next two months the School Committee will meet with town officials and discuss our budget. Like you, our town must balance a budget they can operate within for the next fiscal year. You can see our proposed budget at

Tough times call for tough decisions. We tightened our belts knowing that all citizens in East Longmeadow are doing the same. And yes, I practice what I preach. As your superintendent of schools, I have accepted one raise in salary over the past six years. Additionally, I will not accept a raise in salary for the next four years. We all need to practice fiscal conservancy until the current economic storm subsides. We are grateful for the support our parents, grandparents and all citizens give to education.