School Committee approves 3.34% budget increase

Mar 21, 2024

The School Committee has voted to approve a 3.34% budget increase for the next fiscal year, an amount that’s less than the 10% increase the School Committee originally requested but which it settled on after budget negotiations with the town. 

The 3.34% increase results in a budget of $34.6 million. This falls approximately $2.3 million short of the amount needed to maintain an even level of services, an amount that’s just under $37 million, due to increasing costs. 

The figure is $121,004 higher than the $1 million increase previously allocated by the Town of Wareham. Town Administrator Derek Sullivan said the town’s receipts for Medicaid were trending about 14% higher than expected, so the town was able to put more money in areas of concern, including the School Department.

School Committee member Geoff Swett said it shouldn’t be lost that the Town Administrator came forth with a better than 10 percent increase from the $1 million figure. However, the increase is still dwarfed by the amount the school has to cut from the budget, he added.

The cuts necessary to make the budget work include savings in retirements and vacancies, according to Superintendent Matthew D’Andrea, presenting a rough draft of the cuts needed on Thursday, March 7. Out of 21 retirements, the school decided it could avoid replacing 6 staff members, and could fill the remaining 14 vacancies with more affordable replacements. It also could cut two additional positions through one resignation and one transfer. This all amounts to a total savings of $848,000 and 8 positions cut. 

The school additionally found $270,000 worth of offsets, additional sources of revenue. 

The remaining $1.32 million of required cuts would be distributed across the rest of the school. D’Andrea said the school could cut 15 positions spread across all departments and make spending reductions in areas such as technology, utilities and high school sports.

The School Committee voted to approve the new figure on Thursday, March 21. The budget will need to be approved by Town Meeting on Monday, April 22.