Rochester Selectman Richard Nunes made clear Monday night his disappointment with the Old Rochester Regional School District’s 2014 budget, while calling the Rochester Memorial School’s recent decision to fund Full-Day K “disturbing and shocking.”
Rochester Town Meeting approved the ORR School District’s $4,418,858 request last month. Voters in Marion and Mattapoisett did the same with similar assessments. But in his report Monday night, Rochester Town Administrator Richard LaCamera lamented the shortfall in expected state aid for education after Massachusetts House and Senate votes and its potential impact on local schools.
“There’s concern in all three towns,” said LaCamera, announcing a June 19 Tri-Town Selectmen meeting at ORR. “The budget needs to be addressed now. We can’t just kick it down the road.”
Nunes was even more blunt.
“The superintendent proposed a budget based on assumptions about state aid, and how many weeks did they have to change it?” Nunes asked, referring to ORR School District Superintendent Doug White. “They had a month. They could have changed their figures to be more reasonable, but they decided to stick to the highest number. Now, they’re scurrying around to find more revenue to keep their inflated budget.”
Later in the meeting, during New Business, Nunes said the RMS Committee’s vote earlier this month to fund Full-Day K was “news to me and news to everybody.”
Board of Selectmen Chair Naida Parker suggested they invite RMS Committee representatives to a meeting for discussion.
“I guess we could,” Nunes said. “Up to this point, there has been no discussion about how to fund Full-Day K. Where are the funds going to come from? It’s a month after Town Meeting, when the budget was already set. And now there’s going to be a surprise increase in the RMS budget? There’s data behind this budget, line items for everything. At Town Hall, all of our money is allocated to the time, to the penny.”
In other school news, Parker told officials she had received a letter of resignation for personal reasons from newly elected ORR School Committee Member Derek Medeiros, effective immediately.
Elsewhere on the agenda, the Selectmen signed off on Municipal Health Insurance Reform and the Police Contract, while tabling the Longevity Pay Policy to work on the document’s language. In addition, LaCamera said that Rochester has “gotten nowhere” on receiving a safety assessment for the Cape Flyer Rail from the MBTA.
The Selectmen also authorized Rochester to undertake negotiations with DG Service Company on a new HVAC system for Town Hall. The Mattapoisett company bid $46,833.
Finally, Parker reminded the town that noon on June 24 is the deadline to request an absentee ballot for the June 25 statewide special election.
By Shawn Badgley