School Budget May Require Override Vote
The School Committee unanimously approved a 7.36 percent increase for the 2013 school budget.
A year ago Winchester residents voted against a general override.
The narrowly defeated vote forced the school department to increase its 2012 budget three percent. The district had requested a 4.29 percent if the override would have passed.
For 2013, the school district is asking for a 7.36 percent increase over last year’s budget, which would equate to a $2,628,367 increase, making the 2013 school budget $38,349,537.
“We’ve been providing a level services budget,” said Superintendent William McAlduff. “In order to move forward as a district, we need to go above that. We don’t want to be in a position where we’re just maintaining services.”
According to McAlduff, of the 7.36 percent requested increase, 5.07 percent of that are to maintain level services – contractual requirements ($1,054,111), state mandated programs ($127,602), state mandated special-education programs ($309,073), enrollment increase ($204,164) and AYP Accountability ($117,082).
The district is requesting $816,335 or a 2.29 percent increase outside of its level services budget. Those funds include four part-time assistant principals, four elementary school psychologists and one clinical counselor for the high school.
According to McAlduff, in the last 15 years, Winchester went from 3,300 students to 4,400 students. McAlduff said that the number of administrative positions, central office administration and school administration has not changed over that time.
“We’re seeing continued growth in student enrollment,” McAlduff said. “We have needs beyond level services. Once upon a time Winchester was a small school district with different needs. Now, with 4,440 students, we’re a large district.”
McAlduff said that Winchester’s per pupil expenditures are near the bottom in the state. In 2010, Winchester spent $11,356 per student. Neighboring communities – Belmont ($11,609), Concord-Carlisle ($18,872), Lexington ($15,862) and Wellesley ($15.332) – have all spent more than Winchester. The state average, according to McAlduff, is $13,093 per pupil.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that if we want to meet the needs of students that go here, we seriously need to consider an override,” McAlduff said. “I think it’s needed.”
Winchester parent, Susan Verdichio, wanted the committee to add a fifth elementary media library specialist, so that each elementary school could have one full-time librarian.
“Librarians help kids learn,” Verdichio said. “It doesn’t make any sense to defer.”
School Committee member, Michael Shindelman said that it’s important for the district to be succinct in what they need.
“We need to make very clear that these needs are real and we need to be able to address it,” Shindelman said.
The School Committee unanimously approved the school budget. The budget now goes to the Town Manager’s office for review.