Concerns Over School Budget Raised at Meeting

The Winthrop School Committee held a public hearing Monday night to discuss the proposed $17,997,378 school budget for fiscal year 2016. Individuals voiced their concerns regarding salaries, three year trends on stipends paid, state budget cuts, and the breakdown of technology costs.

The budget request for FY16 is $1,047,378 more than in FY15 budget of $16,950,000, a 6.18 percent increase.

Karen Chavis, a member  of the Finance Committee, brought up the big difference in the gas and electric utility budgets for the Gorman Fort Banks and the Arthur T. Cummings schools. At the Banks school, the electric bill is $105,000; while the electric bill at the Cummings is $130,000. The funds set aside for gas at the Banks is $71,000; and $60,000 is allocated for gas at the Cummings.

“Those numbers have maintained over the years. We’ve spent up to those numbers if they’re in the budget,” said Superintendent John Macero. “The Cummings building tends to be used quite a bit more over the weekend than the Fort Banks does, especially in the winter with a lot of the sports programs and various things.”

The $92,000 extracurricular budget — which pays for all the activities at the high school, such as drama, club accounts, advisors, and mentor teachers — was also discussed.

“The $100 from the student activity fee helps supplement that amount of funds,” Macero said.

Another point considered was the discrepancy with playground maintenance between the Banks and Cummings schools. The budgets of $5,000 for the Cummings, and $1,500 for the Banks were decided by the schools principals. Macero believes that a lot of the Banks’ playground budget is put toward mulch,. Eventually the playground will be resurfaced. The playground equipment at the Banks school is newer than the Cummings, where a lot of equipment gets damaged during after school hours.

The Go Math program, which offers kindergarten through 7th grade students an engaging and interactive approach to covering new state standards, was explained. The program’s five-year contract expires this June.

“We felt it was important as a district to continue the improvements that we’re doing with Go Math,” Macero said. “It’s best to continue on with it because it’s a program we’re satisfied with. In the meantime, we will search for other programs. I’ve left that to the curriculum coordinator and principals.”

The School Committee took no action on the budget because the board will be taking into consideration the questions and comments brought up at the public hearing.

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