At a public hearing during Monday’s Hopkinton School Committee meeting, superintendent Carol Cavanaugh presented a tentative FY22 budget of $54,153,911, an increase of a little less than 6 percent from the current budget of $51,206,402.
That figure includes a requested increase of $2,145,327 for salaries, which is a 5.2 percent increase, and $802,182 for expenses, a 1.6 percent increase. Of the 5.2 percent salary increase, 2.9 is allocated for contract increases and 2.3 for new staff positions.
Three major unknown driving the budget are future enrollments, especially in light of the pandemic and its potential impact on education decisions by local families, the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) that will be needed, and the outcome of contract negotiations with the Hopkinton Teachers Association, the paraprofessionals union and the school nurses, Cavanaugh said.
She noted that the website Niche recently named Hopkinton as the top school district in the state, the district with the best teachers in the state and the best district in which to teach.
Hopkinton’s per pupil cost is $15,086.49, which places it 31st out of 33 similar school districts and below the state average of $17,149, based on 2019 figures.
“We budget very conservatively,’’ Cavanaugh said.
All requests are researched and comparative studies done to make sure they warrant being added, she added. “We do an awful lot of math to make these decisions, she said. “We are not spending a lot to get to the tippy-top.’’
Members of the Select Board attended the presentation, along with town manager Norman Khumalo and chief finance officer Tim O’Leary, but offered few comments.
Several Select Board members did express support for ensuring that the social, emotional needs of students are met in a year they said had been traumatic for students.
In addition to the pandemic stresses, board member Irfan Nasrullah noted that the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week left him “shaken,’’ and he wondered how students might be affected, given “the current state of where things are.’’
Select Board member Brian Herr said he was willing to be involved in a town group that would look at “how to support kids’’ both during and in the aftermath of the pandemic. He said he is interested in the topic both as a town official and as a parent.
School Committee chair Amanda Fargiano said these are “very real concerns.’’
Town resident Denise Randall sought assurance that counseling was available in the schools to meet the concerns of LGBTQ students.
In other issues, Cavanaugh reported that the state extended the flu vaccine deadline to Feb. 28. As of Jan. 11, reported student vaccination totals are 63 for Marathon, 54 for Elmwood, 39 for Hopkins, 71 for the middle school and 158 for the high school.