Schools to add more programs in FY13By Mike Berger
Unlike last year, the Canton School Committee is in a mode of restoring rather than cutting programs and staff after receiving positive news from the town’s Revenue Committee, which came back with a bottom-line projection of $31.77 million for next year’s operating budget.
School Committee members had prepared three versions of the budget in anticipation of the Revenue Committee’s report for FY13: a level-services budget of $31.37 million, a restoration budget of $31.88 million, and a “best-case scenario” budget of $32.25 million.
In essence, the figure provided by the Revenue Committee will allow the schools to address some but not all of its identified areas of improvement. Committee members, therefore, spent the bulk of last Thursday’s meeting talking to school principals and administrators about restoration needs.
“We are in a whole lot better spot than we were at this time last year,” acknowledged School Superintendent Jeff Granatino, adding that “right now, at this stage, we can meet our fixed costs and look to restore some of the programs and cuts from the last year.”
Thursday night’s budget discussions did not extend to after-school sports or extracurricular program fees, both of which were due to be reviewed on Tuesday night, when the committee meets to discuss a subcommittee report on extracurriculars headed by School Committee member Cindy Thomas.
Among the proposed restorations the committee has taken under advisement are a .6 computer teacher, .8 English teacher, and after-school supervisor at the Galvin Middle School; a grade 2 teacher, .5 kindergarten teacher, and morning bus coverage at the JFK; bus coverage and school supplies at the Hansen; special needs teachers at the high school and Rodman early childhood center; a part-time, system-wide health and wellness teacher; additional funding for after-school tutoring and for instructional supplies and textbooks for the library; three technology aides; and a custodial position.
CHS Principal Dr. Doug Dias is also requesting a second assistant principal so the current assistant can handle teacher observation and curriculum support rather than student discipline. Other CHS requests were for morning and afternoon building supervisors, .2 positions in the performing arts, foreign language, and social studies departments, and a part-time technology aide.
The committee has one or two more meetings to discuss and vote on the budget before holding a public hearing and then submitting the budget to the Finance Committee and eventually to town meeting for approval.
In other news, the committee heard a positive report from Debra Bromfield, director of student services, whose special education department recently underwent a review by the state Department of Education. The initial review, which also looked at compliance with civil rights and English language learning (ELL) standards, gave the district high marks overall, with a few minor corrections related to physical space at the Kennedy (to be addressed with a four-room addition), student progress reports, and reporting of civil rights training for teachers.
Granatino said Bromfield and her entire staff should be highly commended, especially given the complexity of what state officials reviewed and the fact that only minor corrections were needed. “It was a very impressive report,” added committee Chairman John Bonnanzio.
Granatino also shared with the committee high praise given to School Business Manager Ken Leon for the school district’s business practices. Granatino said he was verbally commended by state education officials when they visited Canton to complete the special education review.
In other news, the committee gave tentative approval to Canton Little League to make field improvements at the Luce school’s rear field to accommodate a girls’ softball league. The softball league was formerly part of the Recreation Department. The committee also approved fencing for Ruane Field at the Kennedy and sign sponsorship of the softball league along the right field fence at Walsh Field at CHS.
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