WAKEFIELD — The School Department will receive $777,071 this Fiscal Year, approximately $32,000 more than was anticipated for Circuit Breaker reimbursement, said Business Administrator Michael Pfifferling at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

“Last spring when we presented the budget, we anticipated Circuit Breaker reimbursement to be at 70 percent of our FY’13 net claim amount, or $700,000,” said Pfifferling. “This is good news for the district.”

After submitting final FY’14 Special Education costs to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in early July, Pfifferling anticipated that number to grow to approximately $715,000, but last week he was notified that the actual reimbursement amount would be $777,071.

This amount represents 72 percent of the district’s net claim (total eligible expenses less the foundation amount).

According to Massachusetts General Law 71B 5!, Circuit Breaker money is intended to provide partial reimbursement to school districts for the cost of individual Special Education students. The reimbursement formula provides for a 75 percent reimbursement of the Special Education costs in excess of four times the state average per pupil foundation budget. The foundation budget is an amount calculated by the DESE that assigns an adequate, but not excessive, spending level for each local and regional school district.


Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Paul Cancelliere, parent of a St. Joseph School student and a resident of Greenwood, went before the school board to request the addition of a bus to transport his son to and from school.

“He’s had to walk in the rain, take the train and be picked up,” said Cancelliere. He mentioned that his other children have taken buses from the Greenwood School, Galvin Middle School and high school.

The board later approved the hiring of a .04 bus driver, or 40 percent of an employee’s time on the job, to accommodate the situation.

According to the current contract, $22 per hour is paid to custodians and three hours of their day could be dedicated to driving  a bus, said Pfifferling.

“This year the contractual rate for a bus driver is between $17.68 and $21.07 per hour,” said Pfifferling. “We anticipate this position to be three hours a day for up to 160 days. This would cost no more than $10,114 at the top step — well within the $11,000 buffer we currently have.”

Ten or 15 students could go on a smaller bus from the middle school to the St. Joseph School, which makes more sense, said Pfifferling.

“Considering the cost to run a large bus through our current bus vendor was quoted at $150 per afternoon, the $63.21 (at the top hourly rate) plus fuel is a much more cost effective approach,” he said.

Other changes in the bus transportation system have been made recently and specifically relate to how bus applications and bus passes are processed.

“In years past, the bus application was a hard copy document a parent would need to complete and return,” Pfifferling explained. “An employee in the school Business Office would then have to enter the information from the form into a spreadsheet. But this year we created a Google form that allows parents to complete a simple online application. Now there’s no need to print or mail it, and it automatically creates a secure spreadsheet.”

The Business Office processes over 400 applications every year, and this year the number is 463 so far. The new process will cut down on labor and reduce the possibility of data entry errors.

Another change is in the bus pass itself. In previous years, bus passes were made from card stock, but over time they would be lost, ripped or wrinkled and, finally, destroyed.

“During the summer of 2013, we bought an ID badge printer we use for issuing staff IDs and realized we could use the same printer to create a plastic ID, which would take much more abuse,” Pfifferling said. “We also provided a plastic loop strap so students could securely attach it to their backpack or book bag.”

Bus route realignments also have been completed and were implemented on Tuesday. So far, there have been few questions from students or parents, said Pfifferling. The realignments were primarily made due to some bus routes were overlapping.

“Due to construction at the Galvin Middle School, we were having some timing issues getting the afternoon buses to the elementary schools in time for dismissal,” said Pfifferling. Other changes were made to the routes to accommodate high school students who live on Audubon Road. Previously, a bus stop had not been offered to students from that area in the morning. He also cited a lack of coverage in the morning for high school students along the Pleasant street route.

Once construction is completed at the Galvin next year, buses will be able to enter and exit the property from public streets. At this point, however, the bus lane only has access from North Avenue. In the morning, the buses enter the bus area from North Avenue, then the students depart the bus and enter the school. Once the bus is empty, it proceeds through the Department of Public Works yard and back onto North Avenue. In the afternoon, the route is reverse.

Because there are fuel pumps and heavy equipment in the DPW yard, buses are not permitted to transport students through that area, said Pfifferling. Previously, the afternoon buses would first pick up students at the high school and proceed to the Galvin so that both high school and middle school students would be on the bus at the same time.

“This year, we pick up at the Galvin and proceed to the high school,” he said. “As a result, the buses heading to the Walton school are are experiencing heavy traffic and a longer drive, putting them behind getting to their elementary school runs.”

Realignment of certain routes means putting everyone back on schedule at the elementary level.

“Administration at the School Department is supporting this route change, as it provides high school students the opportunity to meet with teachers for a conversation or extra help,” he said.

There are two options for the new bus plan as it relates to the St. Joseph School, depending on the number of riders from the Galvin and high school.

The first option would allow the newly implemented small bus to depart the Galvin at dismissal time with about 15 students and proceed to the St. Joseph School to pick up students and head to Greenwood to transport students at assigned bus stops. The bigger bus would depart the Galvin at 2:20 p.m. and head to the high school as happened all year but with 15 fewer students on board.

The second option would be for the new smaller bus to depart the high school at dismissal time with all Greenwood and high school students transported to assigned stops. The bigger bus (#6) would depart from the Galvin at 2:20 p.m. and proceed to the St. Joseph School to pick up students and head to Greenwood to assigned bus stops.

The final decision will be based on the number of students department from the high school.

Pfifferling said that more students have signed up for bus transportation this year. Last year a bus would make several stops between the high school and middle school before picking up students at the middle school. This is not an option this year due to Galvin construction and time constraints.

Pfifferling also commented on the transportation financials.

“We have approximately $70,000 in collected bus fees this fiscal year,” he said. “Of that amount, $58,800 will go to offset busing costs already incurred.  The remaining approximate $11,000 will now go to fund the driver and fuel costs of the new bus.”

Pfifferling said there is one spare bus that covers out-of-service buses, which is also used for sports meets and SPED.

“Most of the time it is idle.  The drivers do swap to that bus on a rotational basis to “keep the rust off.”


Out of respect for the Jewish population in Wakefield’s schools, Dr. Zrike asked that teachers not schedule tests, quizzes and school-sponsored activities during Rosh Hashanah. The holiday began on Wednesday and concludes tonight.

Also, no school-sponsored activities will be scheduled on Friday, Oct. 3. This is the date of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. The traditional fast continues until the end of Saturday, Oct. 4 so that any homework would not be able to begin until Sunday.

Zrike emphasized the difficulty for students who observe these holidays to do any homework or studying on these holy days and that teachers should keep this in mind.

“Students should be given ample opportunity to make up work they have missed during their absences for religious observances,” he said.

For more information, visit www.shir-tik/


Superintendent of schools, Dr. Stephen K. Zrike announced at the meeting that a partnership between the School Department and Lesley University has been formed.

Any revenue due the School Department will depend on the number of students the school enrolls in its programs.

“Our proposed partnership is for Lesley to pay a percentage of tuition from classes held at the town’s schools,” said Pfifferling. “The more students, the higher the income. It also depends on when we can launch the program.”


Four students were identified as Student Advisors to the school board. They are Amanda Callahan and Taylor Guarino, Class of 2016 and Samantha Coburn and Meghan Chapman, Class of 2015.