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Waltham Schools Want Budget Increase; Lacks Reorganization Costs

Schools asking for 3.26 percent increase.

The Waltham Public School District is proposing a 3.26 increase in its budget for the next fiscal year.

If approved, the budget would total $66,801,431.

The Waltham School Committee held a public hearing on the budget on Thursday, April 4. The draft budget was presented at the School Committee’s March 21 meeting. 

Once approved, the budget will be forwarded to the City Council to approve it as part of the city’s overall budget. The committee is expected to make a ifnal vote on the budget at its next meeting in two weeks.

BUDGET NOTES (source: School Committee meetings, documents)

  • $570,000 is earmarked for professional development. School Committee member Ed Tarallo said he was worried that $48,200 had been cut from that line item, but Waltham Public Schools Superintendent Susan Nicholson said the principals had decided to make the cut to pay for additional staff.
  • The of the district’s administration is not included in the budget. “I wanted the school committee to have flexibility to discuss the reorganization,” Nicholson said of on why she did not include reorganization costs in the draft budget.
  • Increases for legal, nursing and extended year services costs are included in the proposed budget.
  • Despite the Supervisor of Attendance position beign boosted to a full-time post in the draft bduget, the committee approved keeping it a part-time job. Nicholson has acknowledged the office was running fine with a part-time staffer. 
  • The budget proposes eliminating the plumber’s position and plumbing services would be performed through a private contractor, according to Nicholson. “We think that is a risk we want to take,” she said. She, however, said the director of facilities opposes cutting the plumber positions.
  • Mayor Jeanette McCarthy said that although money from the federal economic stimulus is now gone, reimbursement for transporting homeless children to area schools as well as other funds could help make up the difference.
  • The budget also proposes to reduce the number of school nurses from three full-time staff to two full-time and one part-time nurse. One is scheduled to retire this year, Nicholson said, and once complete, the post would be reduced to part-time. Patricia Curtin told School Committee members last night that she was concerned with cutting the number of school nurses. She said the nurses have a large workload that includes dealing with bullying, illnesses concussions, teen pregnancy and other issues. Fewer nurses could put students in danger, Curtin said.
  • “To reduce the number of full time nurses increases the potential of harm to our children,” Curtin told the committee.
  • The budget also includes $150,000 to hire additional staff mid-year to meet increased enrollment, according to Nicholson. 
  • School Committee member Susan Burstein said she has a number of proposed changes that she plans to bring to the next meeting. 
  • In response to concerns of increasing class sizes, Nicholson has included funding for an additioanl grade 1 teacher at the Norhteast School. In response to concerns from parents about the class sizes, Nicholson said the average class size would drop to 17.75.
  • “The administrative team … is committed to maintaing a lower class size at the elementary level,” Nicholson said. 

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