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School Department seeks $600,000 increase in FY14 budget

Feb. 7, 2013
By Chris Maza


LONGMEADOW — The Longmeadow Public Schools will present the fiscal year 2014 (FY14) budget on Feb. 11 in hopes of receiving an increase.

Superintendent Marie Doyle proposed a budget to the School Committee of $33.9 million, an increase from FY13 of more than $600,000.

Doyle told the School Committee that the increases were deemed necessary after conversations with the School Department's leadership team.

"One of our strategic goals is to demonstrate fiscal responsibility and this is always a challenge," she said. "What we did is asked the administrative team to tell us what they could do without and then we asked what it is they wanted because we wanted everything out on the table. We wanted to show you what those requests were so that you understand that while we are coming forward with an increase, we still have many outliers that we wish we could fund as well."

The proposed contribution to the school budget from the general fund is $31 million, representing a $613,213 increase. The district expects to see a drop of $27,569 in grant funding this year, but also a $19,069 bump up in special revenues.

"General fund money is made up generally of tax dollars from local receipts and also Chapter 70 funds from the state that the town receives," Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Thomas Mazza said. "Grants are both regular and special [education] grants that districts receive and special revenues are circuit breaker, school choice, private pre-school, private kindergarten."

Overall, 91.5 percent of the district's funding would come from the general fund, as defined in the proposed budget. According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's preliminary figures for Chapter 70 aid, Longmeadow is expected to receive $4.4 million in FY14, an increase of more than $300,000 from FY13's figure of approximately $4.1 million.

Seventy-four percent of the total budget is projected to go toward staff and services, while another 21 percent will be allocated to contracted services. The remaining five percent will be used for supplies and materials.

More than $795,000 of the $1.3 million in additions to the budget is allocated for cost of living increases, step increases and salary advancement for continued education.

"Cost of living is the 2 percent raise that was negotiated during our sessions for a new contract," Doyle said. "With step increases, teachers who are relatively young move up steps as well as career advancement, so every year they get a pay raise on top of the 2 percent up until step 16. The salary advancement is for extended work, if they get a certain number of credits from outside work as well as professional growth courses."

Doyle also pointed out that the district is suggesting $710,933 in reductions.

"[The reductions are] everything from substitutes to negotiations to staffing to technology," she said.

The largest areas of reduction include $131,720 in savings from network and scheduled projects, including the installation of a new fiber optic network that will save $90,000 a year. The district also anticipates saving $115,631 in out-of-district tuition costs.

The formal budget presentation will take place on Feb. 11 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Glenbrook Middle School.

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