SHREWSBURY, Mass. – Shrewsbury school officials are looking ahead to the coming budget process, and want to plan for what looks like a difficult year.
The board and Superintendent Joseph Sawyer agreed Wednesday to identify their budget needs as soon as possible. Board Chair Erin Canzano asked administrators to provide the committee with a preliminary budget gap forecast.
Meanwhile, Shrewsbury schools are dealing with the repercussions of the current budget and its $2.5 million gap. The loss of 16 teaching positions means crowded classrooms, especially in grades four through eight.
The athletic program is facing a $70,000 gap. That could be exacerbated by the cancellation of night games because of fears over the mosquito-borne EEE virus.
"The task in front of us is how to navigate through the upcoming budget process, to think about restoring, not reducing," said Canzano.
Sawyer said he wants to raise $2.5 million from different sources, including a capital campaign, philanthropic support and sponsorship, to close the budget gap.
"I'm optimistic, but its still a sobering reality that we face," Sawyer said.
Board member B. Dale Magee warned that parents may show their displeasure by moving their kids out of the district and into charter schools or other public schools through the school choice program.
"If we make things too tight, too undesirable ... it will make a bad situation worse," Magee said.
"We need to sustain what we have and we need to bring back what we've lost," Vice Chairman John R. Samia said. "We have a finite amount of resources and we need to make some tough decisions."