The Rochester School Committee viewed the draft fiscal year 2020 budget on February 7, which sees the general education budget increased by just 1.5 percent ($22,512) more than last year’s budget, and special education up 9.43 percent ($184,722), for a total overall school budget increase of 3.25 percent, or $203,476.
General education increases revolve around maintaining staffing with some teacher shifts, including moving one general education teacher over to special education and an additional paraprofessional, and 75 new Chromebooks, which means grades 2 through 6 will now use Chromebooks as part of their school day.
“The big thing that this budget will support would be keep that staffing and the programming and materials that we purchased … and maintain that 1:1 [device],” said RMS Principal Derek Medeiros.
Social/emotional professional development continues around the “responsive classroom” model, and RMS will seek funding for a new vertical social studies curriculum that teachers will first “test drive” and then pilot with the sixth grade. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Elise Frangos said some grant money she has tucked away would provide for some of the cost of the licenses for the digital materials and some hard copy books as well.
The special education budget has saved some money in out of district tuition and transportation costs, down by $130,133, and the increase in the budget includes that teacher who was shifted from general to special education.
There was no vote taken that night, as the budget subcommittee must still meet with representatives from Rochester’s Finance Committee, Board of Selectmen, and the town administrator, and then the School Committee will hold a budget public hearing before voting.
“We’ve asked the Town to help us with some capital expenditures,” said Superintendent Doug White, “one being around our math program, which would allow us to purchase that curriculum for the next three years. I’m hopeful that we will get that support.”
The proposed FY20 budget rings in at almost $6.5 million.
Apart from budget talks, Medeiros told the committee that the student population at RMS currently stands at 504 students.
The next meeting of the Rochester School Committee is scheduled for March 24 at 6:30 pm at Rochester Memorial School.
Rochester School Committee
By Jean Perry