SHREWSBURY, Mass. — Frustration is brewing among Shrewsbury Selectmen over the school district's proposed budget, with several board members saying Tuesday that they were growing tired of being reminded by residents of the budget crunch.
"It's beyond foolishness," Selectman James Kane said of some people's belief that the selectmen do not understand the town's budget woes.
"This isn't a town of drama," Kane said. "This isn't a town of showboating. This a town of blocking and tackling municipal government."
The selectmen and the town manager "care very deeply" about the school system, he said. The construction of a new middle school was made a priority over renovations at the library, Kane cited as an example.
"We realize (there's a budget issue) because we're trying to solve it," he said. However, without an official budget from the Board of Education, the selectmen cannot do much, Kane said. "Another 37 emails telling us there is a problem does nothing."
Shrewsbury School Superintendent Joseph Sawyer has recommended a $54 million budget for the fiscal year 2014 — a nearly 9 percent increase over this year. Town Manager Daniel Morgado's school budget recommendation is about $4 million less.
A public hearing on the school budget will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Oak Middle School Auditorium.
The school board must come up with a solid number, so the budget process can begin, Kane said.
"Until this endless listening tour comes to an end, and an actual budget determined, none of this does a thing," he said.
Chairman Maurice DePalo said he shared Kane's frustration. "I do appreciate the letters from parents," he said. "I'm frustrated because I'm not sure they understand that we are also concerned."
DePalo added, "There are financial limitations as to what we can do."
The budget process is often difficult, Selectman John Lebeaux said. "It's a long, slow process" of reaching a compromise between the school committee and selectmen. "History has proven that what we see in February is not what we wind up with in May."