At the Town Council meeting on Tuesday, October 1, Town Manager Austin Faison shared a number of updates impacting Winthrop and its citizens.
-FY20 School Finance
The Division of Local Services recently finished their estimates for the state budget, which was finalized at the end of July. The budget allocates $7.3 million to school funding, about $100,000 more than what was approved by Council. The estimate provides around $17,000 in Charter School Reimbursement, almost $50,000 less than what the town had originally expected. Between the school funding surplus and the Charter School Reimbursement deficit, this nets the town over $57,000 in education aid surplus for FY20. Council will need to approve the increase in the budget.
Ingleside Park is in need of upgrades, which include improving the current storm drain infrastructure, creating subterranean storage and a pump station, and upgrading the tide gate and outfall at Donovan’s Beach. The Town realized a study to gauge the size of the proposed drainage system and to explore other options for reducing flooding. The option with the best flood mitigation was then chosen for a concept design. The Town is currently submitting permit applications for the improvements and will be putting out a bid for developers.
– Education Financing Bill
The Massachusetts Legislature is currently weighing the possibility of the Student Opportunity Act, which beginning in FY21 would provide sizeable increases in educational funding for towns. Over the next seven years, it would create $1.4 billion in school funding to offset the rising district costs associated with employee healthcare, special education, English Language Learner instruction, transportation, mental health services and low-income students. Once approved by the Legislature, the Governor will have to sign off on it. The Town is currently exploring how the funding would impact Winthrop.
The composting site will be open on October 4 for residents who need to dispose of yard waste and grass clippings.
-Cummings School Playground
The Town Manager read a communication from Superintendent of Schools Lisa Howard regarding the playground at the Arthur T. Cummings Elementary School. The district hopes to have renovations—which include a new surface and new equipment—completed by spring of 2020. A surface study was completed on Sept.26. On Oct. 3, there will be a meeting of the town and school facilities managers, school principal and custodian to better understand playground needs, make recommendations for equipment removal and create a list of questions for the developer, Ultiplay. On Oct. 11, there will be a meeting of the building team and Ultiplay to review the proposal, discuss a community build option, find out labor costs and establish a schedule. On Oct. 18, the school will be updated on removed equipment and the future use of space.