MELROSE — While a dollar figure and the exact impact on taxpayers are still to be worked out, city officials plan to request an override of Proposition 2 1/2.

The reason: School needs and expenses are rising too quickly for the city’s ability to keep up with them.

On Thursday, April 11, Mayor Jen Grigoraitis and Interim Superintendent of Schools John Macero issued a message regarding the status of the city’s education budget.

The message follows:

We are reaching out today with important information about the current needs of the Melrose Public Schools and to share a proposed sustainable path forward for the community we all love.

At the Melrose School Committee meeting earlier this week, we jointly presented information that is the result of three months of collaborative work since Mayor Grigoraitis took office.

Below we have provided the following: an overview of our current situation; more details on what you need to know; and next steps. We hope you will stay closely engaged. Thank you for all you do for our shared community.


  • Following a collaborative review with the Interim Superintendent of Schools, which began immediately upon Mayor Grigoraitis taking office, it is clear that the City of Melrose does not have the resources to fully sustain our schools at the level that our students, families, and community need and rightly deserve. 
  • Interim Superintendent Macero has worked with administrators, principals, and educators to develop and present a needs-based budget for the Melrose Public Schools for FY25 (the next school year). The School Committee has reviewed this budget proposal over several months and identified key priorities, including fully resourcing and supporting the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School, which needs investment. 
  • The Mayor, CFO, and their team have examined every dollar available that could be provided to the Melrose Public Schools for this year and next year. As part of that process, Mayor Grigoraitis has already requested, and the City Council has approved, one-time “free cash” investments in the schools for this year to eliminate the current operational deficit. This operational deficit was identified during the building of the FY 24 budget this time last year, and Mayor Brodeur, the School Committee, and the City Council were all aware of this plan to make the school budget whole, which was known in advance, planned for and (now has been) executed. 
  • For next year, FY25, Mayor Grigoraitis will be proposing the largest percentage increase (from City funds) to the Melrose Public Schools in over a decade. However, given the constraints of Proposition 2 1/2 AND an estimated 1% increase in state aid, even this increase in City funds will not allow us to make additional investments in our schools.  

On May 6th, the Mayor will: 1) in accordance with state law, provide the City Council with a balanced FY 25 budget for all City departments and the Melrose Public Schools, based on current available funding for next year; 2) request that the City Council consider putting an override vote (also known as a property tax increase) on the ballot for June of this year to further fund the FY 25 budget. This would enable the community to have a say in the future direction of our schools BEFORE budgets need to be implemented in July.
More: What You Need to Know
School Budget. The top priorities that have emerged in the proposed needs-based budget include:

1) Right-sizing the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School (MVMMS) due to: 

•Dramatically increasing enrollment 

•Significant learning, behavioral, and social-emotional needs post-pandemic 

•Different needs, schedules, course offerings and supports required for each grade

2) Intensive reading support at the elementary school level, including via a certified
Language-Based Pilot Program at the Hoover School that could support more students
with Special Education needs within the Melrose Public Schools District.

3) Fully resourcing all Special Education positions across the Melrose Public Schools.

4) Keeping class sizes for all students manageable and sustainable next year and beyond
as enrollment increases. 

A total of at least 15 new educator positions are needed for this plan to succeed.

City Resources. The Mayor and City leaders recognize the significant needs of the Melrose Public Schools, as well as the current structural deficit, and the concerns expressed by the City Council and others to close budget gaps and discontinue the use of one-time or supplemental funding. As such, Mayor Grigoraitis articulated an overarching priority to close the operational budget deficit in the Melrose Public Schools for both FY24 and FY25 and to provide the community with a path to fully resource the Melrose Public Schools.

To accomplish this, the Mayor and her team have taken the following actions:

Prioritized the continued operations of the Melrose Public Schools in FY24 (current year) with the first “free cash” requests, which includes:

o Supplemental funding of $2.35 million for general school operating expenses, which was approved by the City Council on 4/1.

This represents approximately 50% of the City’s available “free cash” (supplemental funding) for FY 24.

o The Mayor has requested to add $386,231.35 to the Special Education stabilization fund.

This request will be reviewed by the Council on 4/16.
If approved, the total amount available in this fund will rise to $750,000,

which is the highest balance in this fund’s history.
o The Mayor plans to request free cash (to the City Council on 4/16) to fund school

infrastructure investments for the Melrose Public Schools, and she will also be devoting previously allocated ARPA funds to infrastructure needs, including at Melrose High School, the Franklin School, the Lincoln School, and the middle school gymnasium.

Examined every possible source of city funding, including remaining ARPA funds and special funds such as the Education, Public Safety, and Substance Abuse Prevention Stabilization Fund.

• Recognizing the dependent relationship of the City departments and the Schools, the Mayor has instructed all City departments to conduct an exercise where they reduced their FY 25 budget requests (which were all capped at level services) by 5 and 10 percent for consideration as she builds the City’s FY 25 budget proposal. 

• Pursued opportunities to request federal funding for infrastructure needs. 

Despite doing all the above, a multi-million-dollar gap in funding exists for the schools for the next fiscal year. If additional resources are not deployed, cuts will need to be made to school programs and personnel.

And so, the Mayor will ask the City Council to put an override question on the ballot for a June special election to fund our schools, which will alleviate increasing pressure on the City budget.

Next Steps

•In the coming days and weeks, Interim Superintendent Macero will work to further refine and finalize the precise budget impact figures, incorporating revised state aid and budget obligation numbers as they evolve. 

•The details of potential school cuts, including to administrators, teachers, and programs, as well as consideration of increased fees for school sports and activities, will be discussed by the School Committee at its April 23, 2024, meeting. 

•The Mayor’s full budget presentation (City and Schools) will be made to a joint meeting of the City Council and the School Committee on May 6th. More details and a link will be shared with the community. 

•At that time, an override request would be made to the City Council. 

•We ask you to please stay tuned and stay engaged. We plan to continue to provide you with updates. Thank you.