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NPS 2017-2018 Budget Update

NPS 2017-2018 Budget Update

NPS 2017-2018 Budget Update

It’s budget season at the Newton Public Schools so we wanted to keep our parents abreast of developments and the impact on Mason-Rice. A good place to start is this summary from the PTO Council (association of all PTOs) Board:

The budget for next year has a $2.1 million gap, meaning the ‘maintenance of effort’ or how much it will cost to provide exactly what we provided this year is $2.1 million more than the allocation we are getting from the city to spend next year.  In other words, NPS needs to make $2.1 million dollars in cuts in order to have the budget match the allocation from the city.  The Superintendent did a good job presenting why we are where we are, and details on what is being preserved, added, and cut in next year’s budget.  You can see a video of his presentation here and a link to his slides here.   

The budget for next year must make tradeoffs in order to fit within the allocation from the city.  The NPS budget is a balancing act among class size, breadth of programming, contractual obligations (i.e. teachers and bus contracts, utility rates), mandated services (i.e. special education services, technology for statewide standardized testing), and user fees.  If you try to preserve too much in one area, you have to cut more in another.  A phrase that you might hear quite a lot over this budget season is ‘if you want to us to preserve program XYZ, you have to tell us what you want to cut instead.’
Impact on Mason-Rice
One impact to Mason-Rice and all elementary schools include a significant reduction in librarian time.  With the projected budget, Jennifer Reed will only be at Mason-Rice three days a week next year. While we understand that it will not affect the time for classroom visits to the library, it will affect Ms. Reed’s ability to lead other projects and collaboration with teachers as she currently does.

In addition, it is a stated goal of the budgeting to preserve a low average class size in grades K-3. According to the enrollment report, Mason-Rice has the highest average class size this year (as it did last year) with 23.0 students, although the majority of its classes (86%) are in the preferred range of 20-24 students. (This year’s Grade 2 classes average 25 students.) We hope that we will retain class size aides for our larger classes — but are not sure when those decisions are made.

 Lastly, in the proposed budget, we will no longer have the 4th grade chorus program.  It would be good for all parents to understand the impact of these changes.
Action steps for parents.  We recommend that all of our parents engage with the school budget by doing the following:
  1. Watch the Superintendent’s budget presentation or review the slides to understand what the challenges are.
  2. Attend the the budget discussion at TONIGHT’S School Committee meeting at 7pm at the Education Center.  If you can’t attend in person, tune into NewTV or watch a rerun at a more convenient time.
  3. Please mark your calendars now and attend Dr. Fleishman and the School Committee’s visit to Mason-Rice on Tuesday, April 11 in the Centre at 8:30 AM.  This will give all parents an opportunity to learn more about the budget trade-offs, ask questions and voice concerns — although it looks like the budget may be approved by this date.
If you have any other questions, please contact us directly at masonricepto@gmail.com.
Best,
Carol Ann & Will

msr@dmin

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