Officials Approve 2014 Budget

The Mattapoisett School Committee passed its $6.09 million budget for 2014 with little discussion after presentations from Old Rochester Regional School District Superintendent Doug White, Center School Principal Rose Bowman and Old Hammondtown Principal Matt D’Andrea on Monday night.

The $6,092,177 budget projection exceeds Mattapoisett’s 2013 spending on education by $339,452, or 5.9 percent, which White attributed to contractual obligations, staffing shifts and a spike in special education service needs. He also said the increased cost to the district could be nullified by state funding depending on the fate of Governor Deval Patrick’s budget in the Legislature and additional Chapter 70 aid.

“Those funds would allow us to continue providing education at the level we are at currently, with the impact to the budget being minimal,” White said.

According to figures provided by White, the allotment for professional staff salaries will increase by 171,488, or 5.42 percent, while expenditures on transportation for special education students will bump up the budget by another $80,980.

“When you think about the budget, you have to keep in mind that we’re not only providing for services for students at Center School and Old Hammondtown, but we’re also providing for any student in Mattapoisett who is outside the district but who might need support,” White said. “Everything they need to be successful, that’s in the budget, and we have to keep that in mind when considering these figures.”

White added that 2014 will be the last year of the district’s extended bussing contract, and Chairman James Higgins pointed out that the district will have to bid out services starting in 2015, as the maximum three-year agreement plus two-year extension will have been reached. Mattapoisett’s current deal maintains a Fiscal Year 2011 rate, offsetting higher costs elsewhere and meaning “tremendous savings” for local schools.

“It has allowed us to keep our resources inside the classroom,” White said.

Marion is scheduled to vote on its $5.58 million budget on April 3, while Rochester’s public hearing on its $5.56 million budget takes place on April 4. Meanwhile, White informed the Mattapoisett School Committee that Strategic Plan discussions involving all stakeholders in the Old Rochester Regional School District will be postponed from this spring to the autumn in the hopes of attracting more community participation.

Monday’s agenda also included recognition of outgoing Center School Adjustment Counselor Susan Bellevue, who served on the district’s Anti-Bullying Committee. Higgins praised Bellevue’s “dedicated years of service to the children of Mattapoisett.” Kathleen McManamon succeeded Bellevue in late February.

During his Chairman’s report, Higgins highlighted the Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser taking place on Friday, March 22 at 4:30 pm at the Knights of Columbus Hall. The fundraiser benefits the Mooney family, who lost their home to a fire during the February blizzard. For ticket information, contact Suzanne DeCosta-Barrows at 508-758-4035 or Teresa Choquette at 508-758-8318.

By Shawn Badgley

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