Margaret Raymond Driscoll is a nine-year Melrose School Committee member who is passionate about excellent teaching and learning for all public school students, and considers it a privilege to collaborate with others who share that passion. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MargaretDrisc. Just to be clear - opinions expressed here do not represent those of the Melrose Public Schools, the Melrose School Committee, or the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials - they are hers alone.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

FY18 School Budget and More: Recent School Committee Meetings

The Melrose School Committee held three business meetings in the last three weeks: March 21st, March 28th, and April 4th. We focused on approving the FY18 School Budget, but accomplished other business too.

Here are some highlights in the FY18 Budget compared with FY17:

·               Add two kindergarten teachers (Hoover and Winthrop).
·               Add two elementary itinerant teachers (art or music or health/PE).
·               Add .5 teacher at the secondary level (and share more teachers between the middle and high school for efficiency).
·               Add .5 social worker (funded through a grant from MAAV).
·               Increase funding for translations by $10K.
·               Pre-pay $290K for the ELA reading series and other materials/licenses.
·               Eliminate one secretary position.
·               Apply more money from revolving accounts (Ed. Stations, E-Rate, School Choice, etc.) in anticipation of more staff members taking advantage of the health insurance opt out provision.
·               Reduce the structural deficit by about $100K. (The structural deficit is the difference between the budget that is passed and the amount of money that we can fund at the start of the year. The Board of Aldermen allocates the amount of the structural deficit from the city to the schools in October, when additional cash comes from the state.)

Some other items of note:

·               Lueders Environmental Inc. and Novartis Pharmaceuticals made monetary donations to the schools. Hayes Instruments donated nine file cabinets and a bookcase. The Lincoln School PTO donated Android and Chromebook tablets with three carts.
·               We formally approved a School Resource Officer for the Middle School.
·               Later start times were delayed from this fall to Fall 2018. An administrative working group will be assembled to iron out any unresolved implementation issues.
·               A letter will be sent from the Committee, in collaboration with the Superintendent that reaffirms that all students and families, regardless of age, race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability, are welcome in our school community.
·               We talked more about our Communication Plan and the policies we plan to review in the context of its implementation.

Up next:  our April 5th Legislators’ meeting in conjunction with the Wakefield Public Schools.