School Committee passes new budget

By Jesse Zhang
Published: May 2009

Two months after Superintendent Jeffrey Young first proposed his fiscal 2010 year school budget, the School Committee approved a $166.5 million budget on April 28.

Since Young’s proposed budget first came out on March 2, the committee has received $1.7 million in federal stimulus funds and may potentially receive additional funds from the mayor.

Principal Brian Salzer believes that the $166.5 million will keep South’s programs as strong as they are this year.
“It’s a very generous contribution to the students of Newton, Salzer said. “It will give us the opportunity to make some changes and some additions.

The School Committee will receive the federal stimulus money in fiscal 2010, but the anticipated amount of state funds could be cut.

“The state funds are in a high state of uncertainty, School Committee Chair Marc Laredo said. “How much state funding we’ll receive, I don’t think we’re going to know until the end of June or early July.

The percent increase in this year’s budget is smaller than that of previous years.

“We are trying to do more with less resources, School Committee member Dori Zaleznik said.

According to Zaleznik, six teaching positions were eliminated based on the projection that there will be at least 80 fewer high school students at North and South next year, but both high schools had most of the teacher cuts in the original budget restored.

Zaleznik says that “elimination of small electives based on enrollments, limiting the number of blocks students can take, [and] major cuts in teachers were concerns during budget discussions. They are now restored and will not be found in the current budget.

“The main reason for uncertainty in the budget this year has to do with state spending in cities and towns, Zaleznik said.

According to Laredo, the process of deliberating the budget every year involves determining how much money the committee receives from the city, how much money the mayor will allocate to the schools, and how to spend the money best.

“If the amount of money increases or decreases, it makes the task more difficult, Laredo said, alluding to this year’s particular state of flux at the national and state levels.

Although no decisions have been set in stone, South students can expect to see dramatic changes in the Wellness Program next year.

“Elsewhere in the school, the budget does not have a significant impact, Salzer said. “There are some teaching positions that have dropped 10% or 20%, but in general we don’t have people losing their jobs.

Salzer feels that South will look the same curriculum-wise, but electives are still prone to being cut.

Certain classes will be put on hold if the school believes that it does not have enough money to support them. If no more money comes from the city over the summer, then the administration will cut the class.

The School Committee has set aside $750,000 of the budget in case the state decreases circuit breaker funding, money the school committee uses to offset special education classes. itiated plans to welcome and work with principal Joel Stembridge.

The Senate passed a Stembridge resolution on April 16 in an effort to improve communication with the new principal.

The resolution states that “the Senate would like to establish a strong partnership with the new administration next year to continue passing legislation beneficial to the student body.

Senate members are not quite sure what exact changes will be made when Stembridge enters office, but they are optimistic.

“He might work more closely with the Senate than Principal Salzer, he might not, junior senator Allen Li said. “Either way, the Senate will continue its business as usual.

Although there is little direct principal involvement in the planning of Senate policies, Senate bills must go through the principal before taking effect.

“I hope that the Senate continues to have an active partner, Senate president and senior Bill humphrey said. “I am hopeful that he will engage with the Senate on various policy ideas.

Stembridge responded to the Senate’s resolution, stating that he is looking forward to working together and meeting everyone at South.

“[The Senate] will make sure Stembridge is integrated as smoothly as possible into our school system and that the Senate has a strong relation with him in dealing with student issues, sophomore Dan Sazer said.

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