WAKEFIELD — Tomorrow night, the public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the Fiscal Year 2016 school budget.

A public hearing in the Galvin Middle School cafeteria will begin at 7:45 p.m., approximately 15 minutes after the regularly scheduled School Committee meeting starts.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Stephen K. Zrike said that Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed state budget for 2016 includes both “positive and disappointing news” for Wakefield’s schools.

“We are pleased to see that Gov. Baker’s budget proposal calls for an increase in Chapter 70 general aid to education of $20 per student,” said Zrike. “We are also heartened to learn that Gov. Baker’s proposal calls for METCO funding to be fully restored. This is refreshing news, given the significant cuts that have threatened the viability of the program this year.”

In a memo to school board members, Business Administrator Michael Pfifferling said that Wakefield’s projected Chapter 70 funding would see an increase of $67,480. Statewide, the amount was increased by $105 million.

In his memo, Pfifferling also stated that districts should plan on between 66 and 68 percent reimbursement in Circuit Breaker funding.

While Zrike was pleased over some portions of the state budget, he said there are aspects of the proposal that should be of concern to the community.

“Specifically, our community continues to fall short of receiving 17.5 percent of Chapter 70 Target Aid,” he said.

In addition, Zrike was disappointed to learn that the Governor has cut funding for Kindergarten Expansion Grants.

“We would have been eligible to apply for this funding with our proposed transition to full-day, tuition-free kindergarten in Wakefield,” he commented. “Finally, we would like to see more fiscal support for homeless transportation and Special Education Circuit Breaker. These mandated and necessary services are far from fully funded and place a significant financial burden on our local budget.”

At their Tuesday, March 24 meeting, school board members will vote on the budget as presented and the budget then will be sent to Town Hall and the Selectmen’s office the following day, Wednesday, March 4 for a vote.

At a date to be determined in April, the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee will review the budget before it is presented at Town Meeting on Monday, May 4.


Also on the school board’s agenda tomorrow night concerning the district’s business affairs is a vote to approve an article concerning student transportation to be presented at Town Meeting in May. Pfifferling wrote in a memo to school board members that the current transportation contract with North Reading Transportation will expire on June 30 and that according to Massachusetts general laws, school districts are required to put transportation out to bid.

In 2010, Wakefield’s contract with North Reading Transportation was for three years with an option to continue for fourth and fifth years.

Municipal entities are permitted to enter into agreements for up to three years without any additional town approval; however, anything over three years requires the approval of Town Meeting.

Pfifferling said he has been working with Town Counsel Tom Mullen to provide wording for the Town Meeting Article to approve the Wakefield public schools to do the same with the May 4, 2015 Town Meeting.

In turn, Mullen has suggested wording that would include the ability to enter into future transportation contracts for up to five years without returning to Town Meeting for approval.


School board members are expected to vote on a proposed field trip to Canobie Lake Park, Salem, N.H. at Tuesday’s meeting for students in grades 7 and 8 at the Galvin Middle School. The trip is planned for Friday, June 5.