School Committee: budget crisis evaporates for this year

A regular semimonthly meeting of the School Committee on Thursday, April 10, started at 6:00 pm, mostly held in the fifth-floor meeting room at Town Hall. Topics included final review of the budget to be proposed for fiscal year 2015, starting this July.

The FY2015 budget became a chronic source of anxiety because of growth in school enrollment, combined with uncertainties over state funding and other outside support. However, Dr. William Lupini, the superintendent, announced that enough funding had been identified to avoid program cuts, layoffs and a need to consider a tax override. A document titled FY15 Budget Addendum #1 was displayed to show how that was accomplished. It could not be found on the school department Web site at the time of the meeting.

The committee approved Dr. Lupini’s proposed budget and also approved a six-percent increase in tuitions and fees for Brookline early education services, plus increases in materials fees charged for children of Brookline employees who live elsewhere–all needed to balance the budget. Early education programs now serve almost 300 children, aged about 2-1/2 to 5, and are provided at all the elementary schools, the high school and the Lynch Recreation Center. All committee votes on the budget were unanimous.

The school budget released March 13 shows how the budget crisis emerged and worsened. A table on page 19 shows that total enrollment rose above the long-term historical level of around 6,000 in 2009, as Massachusetts started to emerge from the severe recession. For school years ending in 2009 through 2014, total enrollment grew by an average of 187 students per year–a growth of 19 percent over a six-year span. School-department projections anticipate no relaxation of the trend for at least another three years.

This was committee chairman Alan Morse’s last meeting; he is not running for a possible fourth term in town elections to be held in May. Committee member Amy Kershaw has also stepped aside after a single term. Since only two new candidates are running, their replacements in the May 6 election are known: Michael A. Glover of Franklin Ct. and Lisa R. Jackson of Winthrop Rd.

– Beacon staff, Brookline, MA, April 11, 2014

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