Superintendent says request to limit increase to 5.54 percent not feasible
Superintendent of the Hopkinton Public Schools Dr. Carol Cavanaugh gave a brief report to the School Committee during its Oct. 3 meeting on the status of the FY21 budget, among other topics.
The School Committee and Select Board met on Sept. 24 to discuss the FY21 budget increases for the schools.
During a mid-September meeting, Cavanaugh spoke about the challenges the district will be facing as it starts building its FY21 budget — both operational and capital.
With unprecedented enrollment growth over the past few years that shows no signs of slowing, the district’s needs for both staff members and space has increased significantly. The district currently is undergoing a capacity study to look at not only the potential for additional classroom space but also to ensure the current space is being used efficiently.
Adding staff will increase the budget for next year significantly, noted Cavanaugh, stating during the September meeting that a 1 percent increase for each building to bring in staff to keep up with the increase in enrollment could add up to a 9 percent increase for just the operational budget alone.
At the joint meeting with the Select Board, Cavanaugh said that her department was asked to keep the budget below a 5.54 percent increase, a number that she said would not be enough to keep up with the increase in enrollment.
“[The 5.54 percent increase] is not going to be enough money to run our schools next year,” Cavanaugh said.
The school district has been vocal over the past few months about the need for a substantial increase to the budget for next year, mainly for an increase in staff to keep with the pace of the growing enrollment.
“If we only looked at our contractual obligations [teacher’s salaries, step and land changes, etc.] we are looking at a $1.5 million increase,” Cavanaugh explained. “That plus the $500,000 in new teachers needed for Hopkins and we are already at $2 million, which is a 4 percent increase. That doesn’t even include increases for the other schools or for special education.”
With 254 additional students who moved into the district this year alone, classes are increasing to levels that are outpacing ideal size and comfort levels.
Cavanaugh said that her department has been asked to present its budget that achieves new net growth of 2½ percent and to keep a level-services budget.
“We have told them we have concerns around that number,” she said.
Over the next few months, the School Committee will hear from the individual administrators about their needs for next year, with the most costly asks being full-time educators (FTEs) — both teachers and paraprofessionals, Cavanaugh said.
Cavanaugh also encouraged the community to attend the Oct. 17 School Committee meeting, where the department will be presenting its capital budget needs for next year, including the Elmwood feasibility study, the roofs at the middle school and Hopkins, and additional modular classrooms at the high school.