King Philip School Committee Doesn't Expect Towns to Increase Budget
The King Philip School Committee approved a budget increase, citing increased costs and a rise in enrollment, but they don't expect towns to absorb the increases.
The King Philip School Committee approved superintendent Elizabeth Zielinski’s recommended budget for the fiscal year 2014 Monday.
The recommendations are a 2.5 percent over a level services budget, which would itself be 8.1 percent higher than 2013’s budget.
The entire recommended budget is $28.1 million, which would include the level services budget, be 10.6 percent higher than last year’s budget. A level services budget would be $27.5 million.
School committee chair Patrick Francomano said that the committee has no illusions about the probability of the recommendations.
“I think there is certainly the understanding that approval of this budget as presented by the superintendent is for all practical purposes a placeholder,” he said. “In the event, that there is a significant improvement in the economic forecasts that we will have the ability to reach the recommendations, but I think that the reality is that we all understand the towns are not in the position to absorb this kind of increase.”
The recommendations included an increase in teachers at the high school to allievate class sizes, which are now averaged at 34 students in each classroom that was designed to hold 28.
“What you need to understand the request are not very high in the sky requests, they are practical requests,” Zeilinski said. “There’s not things that are really outlandish at all.”
One of the problems with class size at this point is that there was a 20-percent increase in enrollment a few years ago at the middle school and that is now transferring to the high school.
The board agreed that while they are not expecting many of their requests from the three towns, the trend is starting to show and could really start hurting the students more than anything.
“I do feel like there s an increasing sense of urgency,” said committee member Michael Gee. “There’s nothing in between that’s not level service. We have voted 10-percent increases in the past and come back with 2 to 3-percent.”
Francomano agreed, saying that such cutting is not sustainable.
“You can’t sustain these kind of cuts over time without significantly impacting the quality of education,” he said.