Weymouth: School budget discussions and frustrations continue

Weymouth Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Salim and the School Committee have narrowed down the list of possible reductions to five that will fill the $865,000 gap and bring the budget to level service.

Reductions are in areas of extraordinary maintenance, utilities, and deferred supplies purchases, and there is a cost savings attributed to retirement and a shift of funds from the Weycare revolving account.

Dr. Salim also pointed out two new savings since the last School Committee meeting: $12,000 from new copiers and $3,000 from CPR classes.

“There seems to be consensus with those pieces moving forward,” Dr. Salim said, “They’re areas where we looking to defer costs and areas that have the least impact on the classroom.”

Dr. Salim adds that a more formal vote will probably be taken at the next School Committee meeting.

Several other new efforts have come forward to try and make this budget acceptable.

Mayor Susan Kay has said if there is a $250,000 reduction in the SPED line item, it will  be replaced when Free Cash is allocated in the fall.

Three Town Councilors: Arthur Matthews, Michael Smart, and Kenneth DiFazio also sent a letter to the Mayor suggesting to withdraw $300,000 of Free Cash from OPEB, Other Post Employment Benefits, and put it into the school budget instead.

Despite these efforts and the narrowed list of reductions, the ongoing frustration among parents and other residents continues.

The public was given the opportunity to speak again at the School Committee’s most recent meeting Thursday night.

Gus Perez, Weymouth resident, provided hand-outs to the Committee and the public.

According to the  Massachusetts Department of Elemantary and Secondary Education, Weymouth ranks 306 out of 323 Massachusetts cities and towns in regards to its Net School Spending and Foundation Budget for fiscal 2013 and 2014.

“Our legislative leaders should be embarrassed and the public should be angry,” Perez said.

Several residents and parents said they are even considering moving out of town.

The Town Wide Parent Council is trying to communicate the message to parents in the community.

Peter Farrell, Weymouth resident and parent, pointed out that not many people attended the meeting.  He supports giving the Parent Council the ability to send informational letters home with students to inform parents of what’s going on.

“If they [knew] this place would be packed,” Farrell said, “It’s time to step up and get the message out.”

Sean Guilfoyle, School Committee Chair, said he will look into the policy for sending hand-outs home with students and get back to them.

Chris Primiano, Weymouth resident and advocate for the schools, said the reductions are a “start in the right direction,” but it’s not enough.

“The Town Council really needs to still step up to the plate and go to the Administration to say that our schools are still underfunded [and] we need much more money to adequately educate our children,” Primiano said.

The School Committee and Town Council will be meeting  Wednesday night to discuss the budget.

Primiano said he and others will be making an effort over the next week to communicate their feelings and opinions to Town Council on this matter through email, letters, etc.

 


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About Samantha Tracey

Samantha Tracey graduated from Salem State University in 2013 with a degree in Journalism. She has been reporting on local issues in a variety of towns: Bridgewater, Abington, Carver, Weymouth, East Bridgewater, Hanson, Halifax, etc. She says growing up on the South Shore has made it interesting now to be covering news in such familiar places.