Published February 27, 2019
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — The School Department is requesting a 4.75 percent increase in its FY 2020 budget. School Superintendent Doug Lyons’ recommended budget is $41,931,048, representing an increase of $1,902,724, or 4.75 percent, over FY 2019.
Lyons unveiled his recommended budget at last night’s School Committee meeting. The budget includes a $1,968,182 increase in personnel costs (4.92 percent) over FY 2019. Operational costs ($191,724) are up by 0.48 percent. But special education out-of-district student tuition costs by were down by 257,182 (0.64 percent), bringing the over-all increase to $1,902,724 (4.75 percent).
Lyons explained that as a result of adding nine special education paraprofessional positions at a cost of $198,808, the district was able to keep more students in district and decrease out-of-district SPED tuitions by $257,182.
Special education transportation projections were also reduced by $2,060 as a result of students staying in or returning to the district. The Contracted Services & Supplies lines were increased by $25,000 in order to support these in-district students.
Lyons’ recommended budget includes funds to meet the projected collective bargaining requirements for salary adjustments, including step increases. FY 2020 will be the first year of new collective bargaining agreements for Wakefield Education Association Units A, B and C, as well as custodial, clerical, cafeteria and traffic supervisor collective bargaining agreements. WEA Units A, B and C represents the largest bargaining group in the district.
Lyons also outlined staffing additions in the FY 2020 budget. Added positions include a 0.5 full-time-equivalent School Psychologist/Adjustment Counselor at the Doyle Early Childhood Center; three 0.5 FTE Social/Emotional Learning/Adjustment Counselor at the Dolbeare, Greenwood and Woodville Elementary Schools; a 0.5 FTE Reading Specialist at the Walton Elementary School; a 1.0 FTE Special Education Teacher at the Galvin Middle School; a 1.0 FTE Adjustment Counselor and a 0.4 FTE Art Teacher at the Wakefield Memorial High School; a districtwide 1.0 FTE K-4 STEM Coordinator, a 0.5 FTE Behavior Coach and 1.0 Tier 1 Technology Specialist.
The FY19 budget request for curriculum resources is level-funded from FY 2019 at $250,000. Instructional supplies, materials and textbooks budgets have been decreased by $14,303, of which $10,000 was reallocated to Contracted Services for the ADL Peer Leader Training.
The FY 2020 budget reflects an additional request of $6,080 for Staff Professional Development. With annual updates in curriculum, these funds will be used to implement the changes.
Technology budget will be increased in FY 2020 by $37,953. This increase represents $26,593 in additional Chromebooks, $3,112 in contracted services, $635 in hardware/software acquisition, $1,758 in network services and $4,355 in maintenance. In FY 2016, FY 2017 and FY 2018, the district executed a three-year plan to decrease reliance on the town’s Capital Planning budget for school technology replacement needs.
The FY 2020 Operations budget reflects an increase of $114,539. This includes custodial supplies and maintenance contracts, professional expenses, in-district regular education transportation, utilities and other non-instructional supplies.
As has been the custom in past years, the School Committee did not discuss the budget after the Superintendent’s initial presentation last night. The budget will be discussed on March 12 at the public hearing on the school budget. Lyons and his administrative team will present the School Department budget to the Town Council on March 25. The School Committee is expected to vote on the budget on March 26.
The school budget will go before Annual Town Meeting, which begins April 29.