School Committee seeks public input on FY18 budget

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The Canton School Committee remains undecided on the level of operating funds to pursue for fiscal year 2018 and is looking for public input at its upcoming budget hearing.

rodman1The hearing is set for tonight, April 13, at 7 p.m. in the CHS Learning Distance Lab, and school officials will need to decide whether to accept the Finance Committee’s recommendation of $40.22 million — a 5.63 percent increase over this year’s budget — or to move forward with their initial request of nearly $41 million (7.66 percent increase) at the May 8 town meeting.

Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Fischer-Mueller came into last Wednesday’s School Committee meeting with a plan to meet the FinCom target by reducing added or enrichment-type spending proposals.

Her plan includes cutting 1.8 additional full-time equivalent (FTE) positions at the high school ($130,819); an additional administrative position ($110,000); 3.5 additional elementary FTE’s ($212,650); $101,813 in supplies and materials; $49,304 in educational assistants; and $169,182 in other program cuts.

Fischer-Mueller said the budget with the $774,000 in cuts is workable and said the “elementary initiative” would be worked in gradually over a two-year period.

While new School Committee Chairman Mike Loughran preferred to go with the FinCom number and put the additional expenditures on hold for a year, outgoing Chairman John Bonnanzio took an opposite stance. He noted that the town has never been in a better position to support the additional spending and said he is still alarmed that Canton ranks near the bottom out of 12 comparable school districts in several per-pupil spending categories.

“We are the only board in this town that advocates for the schools; this is our charge,” said Bonnanzio. “The town finances are as good as they have ever been. There is cash available to handle this. We know there are problems in the schools and the 7.66 percent budget increase fully addresses this. If not us, then who? This is very important for us.”

In other action prior to adjourning to a presentation on school space needs by architectural firm Dore & Whittier, the committee elected Loughran as chair, Kristin Mirliani as vice chair, and Meg Gannon as secretary.

The committee also approved School Business Administrator Barry Nectow’s recommendation for a three-year bus contract with current vendor Michael J. Connolly & Sons valued at $3.7 million with options for two one-year extensions. The cost of the first year of the contract for 18 buses is …

See this week’s Canton Citizen to read the full version of this story, including a recap of the school space needs presentation by architectural firm Dore & Whittier. Not a subscriber? Click here to order your subscription today.

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