Margaret Raymond Driscoll is a ten-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, May 13, 2017

Year-End Activities and the School Budget: May 9th City Wide PTO Meeting

City Wide PTO held its May meeting this past Tuesday, with representatives from most schools in attendance and excited to talk about plans for their end-of-year activities as well as next year's planning. We also talked about the school budget for next year.

PTO Updates

·               The elementary, middle, and high school representatives talked about year-end events and celebrations, including elementary ice cream socials, plays, field days, and field trips. Lincoln Principal Donovan will be leaving the district as of July 1st, replaced by current Hoover Principal Corduck. Current Lincoln School Student Services Facilitator Carol Weldin has accepted the Interim Hoover School Principal position.
·               At MVMMS, incoming 6th grade parents are invited to Principal Conway’s introduction to the Middle School on Wednesday, May 31st from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.  (Students’ Step-Up Day is planned for June 14th.) The Veteran’s Memory Project fundraised throughout the year to host a trip Washington D.C. for Gulf War veterans and a guest (along with 20 accompanying middle school students). The annual Semi-Formal, 8th grade trip to NYC, and barbeque round out the school calendar.
·               This year’s final HS PTO meeting is targeted to parents of rising juniors.  ~75% of seniors are on internships now, AP exams are finishing up, and the school featured another amazing drama production: Thoroughly Modern Millie. Underclassmen have submitted requests for next year’s classes. The boys distance track relay is headed to Nationals. Senior Week begins Memorial Day week, culminating in Graduation on Friday, June 2nd at 6 p.m. at the Fred Green Field (all are welcome!) Fundraising has gone well for Melrose Grad Night and over 91% of seniors are registered to attend this safe and fun evening.

School Budget Update

·               The FY18 school budget was passed on April 4th and the Mayor formally presented the city budget to the Board of Aldermen on May 8th. The Committee will present the approved district budget to the Board of Aldermen on May 25th. In order to balance the budget from the original request in February, school and city monies were used to pre-pay materials, requests for additional positions were eliminated (.5 ELL, .5 social worker, an Instructional Technology Director, 1.5 secondary teachers, and 4 Title One tutors), and more money was taken from rainy-day type funds. The district was able to add 2 Kindergarten teachers, and 2 elementary special teachers (.5 art, .5 music, and 1 digital technology). Most significantly, the budget increases teacher salaries by $900,000 from the prior year. We continue to be grateful for donors in the district, like the Melrose Education Foundation, Victoria McLaughlin Foundation, PTO’s, booster clubs and many other groups and individuals, who subsidize one-time district needs.
·               State revenues this spring are coming in lower than anticipated and there may be some cuts but they are unlikely to be enormous. Next year’s state budget is a concern, and there will be much discussion before the required passage date of June 30th. There is hope that the Fair Share Amendment, a ballot question in 2018 that adds an additional 4% tax to personal income over $1M, will pass given that the monies are anticipated for education and transportation funding.
·               The federal education budget remains unknown.

Final meeting of the year is in June!