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Budget approved by Longmeadow School Committee

Date: 2/12/2015

LONGMEADOW –  The School Committee at its Feb. 10 meeting approved the proposed fiscal year 2016 (FY16) district budget of $35.3 million, which represents a total budget increase of $555,790.

The FY16 level service budget was $36.3 million and the General Fund increase was $1.6 million before it was revised for the proposed budget.

The revised budget included a General Fund increase of $757,143, but with the use of grants and special revenues, the total budget increase was reduced to $555,790.

FY16 budget reductions include 4.7 full time equivalent (FTE) teachers, one administrator, 2.5 FTE support staff, legal costs, and special education restructuring, he added. The names of staff members have yet to be made public.

“Special education tuitions – there was a substantial reduction in those lines,” Thomas Mazza, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, said. “Evaluations by service providers for special education bring in some of those services in-house.”

Superintendent of Schools Marie Doyle said contractual obligations is one factor that “really drives the budget.”

A slideshow presentation on the district’s website notes that 76 percent of the FY16 budget consists of staff salaries. Contracted services make up 19 percent of the budget and supplies and materials also contribute to 4 percent of the budget.

Longmeadow High School accounts for 20.7 percent of the budget while Glenbrook Middle School is 33.1 percent.

Additions to the FY16 budget include seven FTE?paraprofessionals, a high school special education teacher, 0.6 FTE?speech assistants, 0.4 FTE?English language learner teachers, and an academic tutor.

Other budget impacts include a reduction to the full-day kindergarten tuition by $250 from $3,00 per student each year to $2,750, Doyle told Reminder Publications. There is also a reduction of parking and transportation fees.

Doyle said within the next few years there would likely be a state legislative mandate requiring school districts to provide free full-day kindergarten.

“I think we all agree, everyone at the table, that we wish we could do [free full-day kindergarten],” she added. “If that’s the direction of the committee, I’m happy to work with the town to start letting them know that next year we’ll be coming in for significantly more than we have typically gotten. This year we had a good agreement and I think we can continue to move forward on it.”

School Committee Vice Chair Michael Clark said Boston Democratic state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz filed a universal pre-K and universal full-day kindergarten bill, which is currently in its early stages.

“The ideas would be that by 2020 any district that’s not doing full-day [kindergarten] right now would transition,” he added.

School Committee member Kimberly King, said initially the committee had proposed to decrease the full-day kindergarten tuition by 10 percent.

“I think the fact that we’ve reduced it is symbolic in and of itself,” Clark said. “It’s a good first step, but we do need to figure out a strategy for FY17, 18, 19, and 20 to how we can get to 0 [percent].”

School Committee member Elizabeth Bone said in FY15 the committee couldn’t move forward with full-day kindergarten because “we couldn’t account for salary increases.” In FY17, the committee is in the middle of re-negotiations of staff wages.”

“I just feel like we need to say that we are going to really make this something that we’re going to look for in the next [fiscal year,] she added.

Doyle said the Transportation Committee is also examining a change to the district’s bus routes and format, which might yield savings.

“There are mechanisms in place that my hope is that if all goes well with the result of the work we’re doing in these areas, there will be savings that could be put towards that,” she added. 

Longmeadow Community Television
was unable to record the meeting and no parents or community members were present at the meeting, likely due to the inclement weather conditions that evening, the committee stated in a letter to resident written during the meeting.

It is stated in the letter that the School Committee encouraged anyone interested in information about the budget to review the budget presentation at

“Unfortunately, while there was a snow date scheduled for Thursday evening, more snow is predicted and the Select Board is in need of our budget by Friday,” the letter read. “For this reason, the School Committee has approved the budget, as presented last Monday night, but is leaving the window open for feedback until Friday at noon.  You may email the School Committee at with your comments for our review.”

If there are any issues to reconsider, the committee would reconvene at a future date to discuss matters, the committee said. If there is no new public comment or information, then the proposed budget will be forwarded to the town without further review.