Shrewsbury Schools Seek $4.4M Budget Increase

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Assistant Superintendent Mary Beth Banios listens during the presentation of the Shrewsbury School District's budget recommendation.
Assistant Superintendent Mary Beth Banios listens during the presentation of the Shrewsbury School District's budget recommendation. Photo Credit: John Swinconeck

SHREWSBURY, Mass. — The Shrewsbury School District is recommending a $54 million budget for the 2014 fiscal year, an increase of $4.4 million or 8.85 percent more than the current budget.

Superintendent Joseph Sawyer, Assistant Superintendent Mary Beth Banios and Director of Special Education and Pupil Personnel Melissa Maguire presented the budget recommendation during Wednesday's School Committee meeting.

The district had been "muddling through” with underfunded budgets for years, Sawyer said. It is time to restore funds, he said.

The demands on the schools “have increased while key resources have decreased," Banios said. For example, the high school's advanced placement science program is in danger of losing its accreditation because its 10-year-old textbooks are out of date.

One goal is to reduce class sizes. A total of 31 new teachers would need to be hired to bring all classes within the committee's guidelines. But the recommended budget includes $1.1 million, which would create only 21.5 new teaching positions.

Other costs would include:

• Special education, behavioral and mental health personnel: $720,000.

• Special education tuition and transportation: $467,000.

• Technology upgrades, including iPads for Oak Middle School and Shrewsbury High School: $526,000.

• A new Beal School principal, a director of foreign languages and a middle schools mathematics coordinator: $260,000.

• Textbooks and training for teachers: $292,000.

• Safety and security upgrades: $114,000.

This budget would be the first step in restoring resources that have been cut over the past several years, said School Committee members, including Jason Palitsch and John Samia.

Town Meeting voters, however, will have the final say. In his written recommendation, Sawyer said: “While it is unlikely that the town will have sufficient resources to meet this budget request, it is important to illustrate the resources I believe would be necessary to ring our existing program forward.”

A public hearing on the school budget will be held Feb. 13.

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Comments (4)

Um, Mr. Lowry...you might want to check this news source - a very good article on what is happening at our underfunded fire department. All of our departments are suffering and damaging any one of them further does not solve the problem, only exacerbates it. We need new revenue. We have already cut too far.

Amy. I truly appreciate the efforts of all the parties involved in our decision making throughout the town. You've lived here 8 years and you are attempting to educate me on the members of the town. I am sorry Amy but I have lived in this town going almost 40 years now. My neighbors have lived her for over 50-60 years. I am fully aware of the people who are making the decisions and I am fully aware of the people before them and before them. I didn't pull my head out of the sand this morning and decide to write my previous post. I've been watching the situation the town is in for decades not for the past 8 years and unfortunately I have watched numerous citizens get engaged only to see their voice trampled on by the individual beliefs of certain selectmen and town leaders. My original point is...why do we see ONLY articles about the school departments budget but very rarely do we see articles about the pains and cuts in other departments. That was my point.

Mr. Lowry, I think we all agree the town has suffered from the overall economic downturn and the effects are evident in all departments. Unfortunately our town is harder hit than many of our neighboring towns due to the fact that this town has lower property taxes than our neighbors and had a big population spike in the late 90s when so many people moved into town. Without some kind of solution Shrewsbury could soon be a town that we are no longer proud to live in. My family moved here 8 years ago to take advantage of the outstanding school system and affordable (low) property taxes. But this town is no longer the value it used to be. We have a difficult problem without an easy solution. But we do have a lot of intelligent, educated, creative people living here and if we get more citizens engaged in and educated on this problem we could probably figure out solutions that everyone could live with. I encourage you to attend some of the town's public meetings to get informed and show your concern and voice your opinion to town officials. There is a school committee meeting to discuss the budget recommendation on Feb 13. You will learn a lot and will likely gain an appreciation for the time and energy people are putting into the struggle.

Asking for an increase like this is similar to a kid bagging groceries asking for a $65 an hour raise. Is the plan of Mr. Sawyer to ask for more in hopes the town will meet him in the middle? All town departments are understaffed and underfunded. Where are the articles from the Daily Voice about the water department? The fire department? The police department? By the way has anyone been in the police department lately?? That place is a dump! I'm embarrassed to say I live in this town knowing the men and women that protect us walk into that building each and every day. I wish the schools had all the money in the world because our kids are important but ALL services in town are important too.