Sixth-grade shift reflected in preliminary budget numbers.
BOYLSTON - Preliminary numbers show an increase in school costs for next year, but the numbers are not simple comparisons.
With sixth-graders moving from the elementary schools to Tahanto Middle/High School next year, the three Berlin and Boylston school district budgets will reflect that change.
Initial budget numbers Superintendent of Schools Nadine Ekstrom presented to the regional school board Tuesday night show the budget for the middle/high school rising on the order of almost $700,000, a 5.6 percent increase over this year's $6.6 million budget.
Before taxpayers get nervous, they will have to consider that the elementary budgets will decrease as staff resources move with the sixth grade.
In Berlin, this year's budget of $2.6 million would otherwise see a requested budget for next year of about $2.7 million, up 3.8 percent. With the change in staff and the sixth-graders moving, the projected budget will drop to $2.5 million, down 5.2 percent.
In Boylston, the $3.1 million budget from this year, which might normally rise to about $3.2 million with a 3.8 percent change, will instead drop by about $275,000, a decrease of 8.8 percent.
Comparing the changes is complicated by the fact that the elementary school staff benefits will not be subtracted from those budgets, while they will be added into the Tahanto budget. That is because the elementary benefits are listed in the town benefits budget. The towns will thus see a reduction in the overall town benefits budget as those positions are shifted to Tahanto.
Although the new Tahanto staff will be hired based on the school's needs, already the plan shows some people shifting from the elementary schools.
"We don't want one of them to leave our district," Ekstrom said, noting she has already been in discussions with the staff.
There is an obligation to hire from within as a first choice because of the change in the school agreement that now reflects the sixth-grade move.
But even without that, Ekstrom said, she wanted to keep as many of the existing staff as possible, including working with those who need additional certification. Some, for instance, may have teacher certification for elementary grades but need to add middle school certification. Some already have certification through middle school.
"They are doing a great job," Ekstrom said of the existing elementary staff that will be affected.
With the shared teaching between the elementary schools, it may be a tweaking of numbers and where teachers actually are.
Benefits are another matter, with teachers who are split between Berlin and Boylston getting different benefits depending on where the majority of their work is done, or having a choice if it is split 50/50.
Among the major changes proposed as the budget process starts: reducing the Berlin principal by half, but adding a 0.6 assistant principal, with the principal then absorbing curriculum director responsibilities.
Future additions at Tahanto could include an assistant principal position. Options include assistant principals for both the middle and high school with one principal overall, or separate principals with a shared assistant principal.
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|Publication:||Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)|
|Date:||Nov 9, 2012|
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