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School Committee supports Town Meeting article seeking stabilization funds

by | Jan 28, 2021 | Education, Featured: Education

School Committee members on Thursday unanimously supported placing an article on the May Town Meeting warrant that would allocate a still undetermined amount of money from the stabilization account to balance the school budget.

The amount has yet to be set, school and town officials said, because the town is “very early in the process’’ of setting final budget figures, town manager Norman Khumalo said at the special meeting of the School Committee, which was held strictly to vote on this issue. “The closer we move to Town Meeting, the clearer our picture becomes.’’

One of the two overall budget options Khumalo presented to the Select Board on Tuesday would require a one-time funding of $1,549,528  from stabilization. That amount would be divided between general stabilization and school stabilization, based on current numbers.

The fluidity of the budget figure could be seen in numbers presented just this week. The governor’s budget, announced Wednesday, allocated $9,409,560 in estimated state aid to Hopkinton, an increase of $782,383 over the estimated amount used to develop the budget.

That figure includes $744,988 in Chapter 70 money, which provides funding for schools.

In addition to these figures, the state also recently released $211,328 in Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief funding to assist Hopkinton with school reopening. This figure is so new that the application has not yet been released, said Susan Rothermich, director of finance for the schools.

This budget could change as it weaves it way through the House and Senate, she said.

The amount of new growth funding also will get more certain as time goes on, Khumalo said, and could alter the budget picture.

All of this means that “the budget process is still very early to finalize a number, if any, for stabilization,’’ Rothermich said.

Town officials who are working on the numbers backed the school’s budget and did not call for cuts, which School Committee chair Amanda Fargiano described as a positive development. “The town is showing support’’ for the budget, she said.

Khumalo said the town is “very committed’’ to supporting the school budget as presented.

This warrant article approved Thursday is separate from one previously approved by the School Committee for spring Town Meeting. That article, if approved, would allow the district to use funding from the Legacy Farms host community agreement to bolster the school budget if enrollment numbers exceed projections.


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