School Committee considers requesting funds from Legacy Farms HCA to bolster FY22 budget

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Hopkinton School Committee members will decide at an upcoming meeting whether to request $500,000 from the Legacy Farms host community agreement to bolster the Fiscal Year 2022 budget.

The request, if approved by the committee, would be made in the form of a warrant article at May’s Annual Town Meeting.

The money would be used if enrollment figures exceed current budget projections and require the hiring of additional teachers, superintendent Carol Cavanaugh said at the School Committee’s Monday night meeting.

The host agreement balance now stands at $2 million, school finance director Susan Rothermich said, with an additional $2 million expected in fiscal 2021.

The request, if approved, would be moved into the stabilization fund, which the School Committee could access if needed, committee chair Amanda Fargiano said.

The money would be used only if enrollment figures require the additional money, she said. Spending is not mandated.

“Allocation doesn’t mean we’re spending it, it just means it puts it in the purview of the School Committee,” she said.

The request would cover an unanticipated 100 extra students, which Cavanaugh said “could happen,” especially in a time of uncertainty. The request would fund the addition of seven teachers at a cost of $70,000 each.

The budget request currently accounts for 74 new students.

Committee member Joe Markey said the request “makes sense,” should the funds be needed, but urged judicious use of the money. The host agreement funding is capped at $4 million, he noted, which makes careful spending especially important.

If the article was not placed on the warrant and additional funding was needed, a Special Town Meeting would have to be called, Fargiano said.

The money “can sit there” if not needed, she said. But, “We can’t access it if we don’t have it,” she said.

The committee will host further budget discussions at its next two meetings, Jan. 11 and Jan. 19.

At Monday’s meeting 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.

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