Wareham Public School officials discuss potential $2 million budget increase
Members of the Wareham School Committee met on Monday night to discuss a possible $2 million increase in the school system’s budget for fiscal year 2020 and prioritize where that money should be spent.
The potential 7.43 percent increase would bring the schools’ operating budget to $31,178,013, up from last year’s $29,022,739 number, which includes $1.2 million to cover contractually obligated salaries.
Business Manager Susan Owen noted that the process of preparing a finalized budget for 2020 would take several months (and many more meetings) to complete.
“We’ve got plenty to do,” Owen said. “This budget will look very different when we’re done.”
School Committee Chair Joyce Bacchiocchi explained that the preliminary budget had been designed with the needs of public school teachers and classrooms in mind. The preliminary budget includes a tentative total of $374,437 for repairs, materials and improvements needed at the high school, middle school and Decas Elementary.
The high school would receive the most assistance with $284,437 allotted for things such as text books, security cameras and new ceilings.
“This is the biggest increase I think we’ve ever asked for,” said School Committee member Michael Flaherty. “In 2013, we literally asked for a zero percent increase.”
With voters having approved a new $90 million dollar elementary school to replace Minot Forest and Decas Elementary this October, Flaherty asked how the committee could justify the size of the proposed budget increase in 2020 to taxpayers.
Bacchiocchi responded by saying that savings from the closing of Minot Forest this summer had already been accounted for in the budget.
Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Shaver-Hood asked that line items in the budget be sent back to teachers to determine where potential cuts might be made going forward.
“If I were looking at these numbers alone, I might cut something that our teachers say is absolutely vital,” Shaver-Hood said.
Shaver-Hood also asked that School Committee members determine priorities which would help direct budget decisions for 2020.
School Committee members agreed that they would consider all students when making changes and work to maintain existing programs and discipline within the schools.