School Committee faces $2.4 million services cut

Mar 7, 2024

According to Superintendent Matthew D’Andrea, budget negotiations between Wareham Public Schools and the Town of Wareham have led to a budget proposal where the town increases its funding of the school by $1 million, but leaves the school $2.4 million short of what it would need to maintain level services for the next fiscal year. 

While the School Committee in January voted in favor of a $2.25 million increase, the town has since told the school that at this point it can only accept a $1 million increase the current fiscal year’s budget, said D’Andrea. 

A $1 million increase from the current fiscal year’s budget brings next year’s budget up to $34.5 million, but leaves the school short $2.4 million of what it would need to maintain an even level of services from the previous year, a number that’s just under $37 million. 

D’Andrea went over the cuts which would be necessary to make that budget work. 

In order to meet the new constraints, the school found some savings in retirements and vacancies. 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 amounted 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.

This budget is less than what the the School Committee voted for in January. That budget, a $3.58 million budget, represented a $2.26 million increase over the budget for Fiscal Year 2024. The combined influence of rising costs and other factors meant that budget came in $1.18 million below the number necessary to maintain an even level of services.

The School Committee did not vote on the budget the night of Thursday, March 7, but it did discuss the potential impact of the cuts. 

School Committee Chair Kevin Brogioli questioned whether the school had ever made so drastic a cut. 

Member Apryl Rossi said the cuts would affect students, and said the cuts won’t help the school’s image at a time when it’s trying to correct a negative perception. 

Member Joyce Bacchiocchi said herself and member Geoffrey Swett had met with town officials as part of the budget process and were confident that the town was very supportive of the school. 

Swett agreed, saying that he had to give the town credit for finding $1 million in the budget for an increase. 

Once decided upon, the eventual budget will go to Town Meeting for a final vote. 

Rossi questioned what would happen if the town and the school disagree about what budget to bring before Town Meeting. 

Swett said the Finance Committee would propose the town’s budget, but that Town Meeting could vote against the town.