School officials recently presented the proposed fiscal year 2014 budget during a Melrose School Committee session. Here is a sampling of four things to know about the school budget proposal:
1) Fiscal Challenges
Based on the budget presentation, the School Department is facing these fiscal challenges for FY 2014:
- 42.9 percent reduction in available applied funds, from $3,239,485 to $1,887,265
- Reduction in grant monies from FY 2011 ($3.2 million) to FY 2013 ($1.9 million)
- Lower than expected state funding. "The fact remains that entering FY14, the City of Melrose and the Melrose Public Schools will be working with $2.1 million less dollars in State Aid we received from the Commonwealth 5 fiscal years ago (Fiscal Year 2009)," said Chief Financial Officer/Auditor Patrick Dello Russo during the meeting. "This revenue is critical in order to fund our public schools as well as the increased demands of other City departments. On top of that is the loss of Federal stimulus provided to school departments across the nation beginning in FY 11. Since the end of the federal stimulus the city of Melrose alone has lost $1.3 million dollars."
- Constraints on city’s ability to supplement lost funds
2) City Funding
The city is expected to appropriate $22,124,770 in FY 2014, plus an additional $1,297,425 as well as $620,000 for contractual obligations, which brings the total FY 2014 appropriations to $24,042,195. Compared to FY 2013, the city is proposing to contribute 8.67 percent more in FY 2014.
3) Budget Drivers
Among the key budget drivers in FY 2014 are:
- Contractual obligations: Up $461,538 to $22,544,990; a 2.09 percent increase.
- English as a second language: Up $83,000 to $133,000; an 166 percent increase.
- Athletics: Up $75,918 to $595,048; a 14.62 percent increase.
- Curriculum/professional development: Up $86,706 to $451,462; a 23.77 percent increase.
4) Effect of Budget Challenges and Drivers
The School Department has identified the budget challenges and drivers and how they could effect the district:
- Competing choices: As budget figures were developed, many choices needed to be made.
- Reorganization of some programs and positions were made to support teaching and learning goals.
- Reduction in secretarial positions.
- Loss of elementary school Italian due to lack of sufficient grant funding.
- Increase in fees needed to supplement specific programs.