By Kate Anslinger
After diligent review and assessing the needs of the district, Superintendent of Schools John Macero is requesting more than $18 million to operate the Winthrop schools next year. This is a four percent increase over last year’s budget.
The much anticipated budget proposal meeting was held Monday evening. The fiscal season, which runs July 1, 2016 until June 30, 2017 was broken down by Macero and backed up by his leadership team, High School Principal Matt Crombie, Gorman Fort Banks Principal Ilene Pearson and Arthur T. Cummings Principal Ryan Heraty.
While past proposals have averaged an increase of around 2.9 percent, Macero believes the well-needed jump is attainable. Roughly $15 million (81 percent) of the proposed budget will go toward salaries while the remaining $3 million will go toward other expenditures including: instructional materials, technology, special education out of district tuition, special education transportation, services and expenses, student transportation, utilities, facilities maintenance, professional development, course re-imbursement, conference dues, athletic and extra-curricular expenses.
A newly structured schedule and an added position will be implemented for the custodians in order to maintain the cleanliness of all the buildings.
“I’ve made a commitment to the town to keep the buildings clean and operational,” said Macero. “And that is why the new structure and added position is very important. I want to ensure these buildings stay in the shape they are meant to be in.”
If the buildings are maintained properly, the town may be eligible for a reimbursement, which adds to the need for additional maintenance. The new high school/middle school, which is still on track to open in September, will bring with it, the launch of an all-day pre-school.
The pre-school will give high school students interested in child development the opportunity to work in the “learning lab,” thus earning credits toward a certificate. The addition of the pre-school brought some skepticism surrounding added fees, however; the pre-school is self-sustaining and the $120,000 worth of tuition will go toward maintenance and the required teachers and supplies.
Several committee members voiced their concerns over the possible cut of paraprofessionals, or classroom aides.
“I’d like to see us work hard to keep these valuable members of the district,” said School Committee member Valentino Capobianco. “They add a lot of value to the classroom.” Another concern that was brought to the table was the need for grants.
“If we have someone who is dedicated to searching for these grants for us, it would be very beneficial,” said School Committee Chair Dawn Sullivan.
An additional guidance counselor and math teacher for the high school are amongst some of the other important bumps in the budget request. With the separation of the middle school and high school, Brian Curley, current vice principal at Arthur T. Cummings, will be rightfully promoted to principal at the middle school.
The public will have an opportunity to voice their concerns about the budget at a public forum during the March 7 School Committee meeting at the high school library and by the end of March, a recommended budget will be determined.