A group of bright-yellow-shirted Charlton parents sat together at the Dudley-Charlton School Committee meeting Wednesday, April 11, to participate in the citizen's forum section of the meeting.
Several addressed the committee to express opposition to proposed school budget cuts. Their statements encompassed the fact that they felt their children were getting a “world class education in the Charlton schools” and that “many residents moved to the area not for the employment aspects nor for the big-money jobs, but for the excellent school system.”
They did not want to see the budget cuts happen in technology or school staffing and were emphatic about this. They insisted that the school committee keep the budget levels intact in order to maintain the high-quality education their children deserved.
They also praised the entire teaching staff for the remarkable work they do. Chairman Geraldine Nowicki thanked all the speakers for their comments, told them all was appreciated, and suggested they also bring their comments to each Town’s selectmen and finance boards.
Superintendent Sean Gilrein reported that the school’s accreditation process was beginning in anticipation of next year’s visit by the New England Association of Schools & Colleges. He also noted that the Massachusetts House's proposed education budget had increased funding by $163.8 million over the 2012 budget, approximately $40/student increase. (This budget has yet to be approved by the Senate.)
Mr. Gilrein also spoke about the Masonic Angel’s Fund and the group’s extraordinary acts of kindness that have made a big difference to many regional school children and their families. He thanked all groups for their tireless fundraising efforts.
Turning to the FY2013 budget, the committee recommended further cuts in staff, including one full-time elementary school specialist, one district-wide speech and language pathologist, and at Shepherd Hill one foreign language teacher and one English teacher.
These actions would reduce the budget by an additional $169,000, still leaving a gap of $858,595. The number of district staff positions lost due to budget considerations would increase from 25 to 29.
The committee had already cut staff positions and other costs totaling $3.3 million to close a projected $4.3 million deficit.
In other business, the committee reviewed ESL usage of buildings based on availability; approved an additional year leave-of-absence for teacher Karin Curran; and reviewed and approved Finance Director Trifone’s awarding of the net metering credits, thereby reducing electricity costs.
Superintendent Gilrein closed the meeting with an impassioned speech, saying that he was all for the students, knew the value of the District’s excellent school system, and that the committee would work diligently to ensure that all 4,000 students continue to receive the absolute best education in the area.
Mr. Gilrein further commented that “these were difficult economic times but we will make it work for the students. I am proud to say that parents who moved here did so because of the sterling reputation of the Dudley-Charlton School District. I want this budget to work for everyone.” He then thanked all the teachers and parents for attending the meeting.
Next meeting dates are Wednesday, April 25, at the Charlton Middle School and Wednesday, May 11, at Shepherd Hill Regional High School, both meetings begin at 7 p.m.
School Committee members in attendance were: Liz Canney, student rep.; Elaine Rabbit; Raymond Chalk; Geraldine Nowicki, chair; Pauline Aucoin, vice-chair; Catherine Kabala; and Joseph Pietrzak. Absent was Michael McConville. Also attending were: Sandra Sullivan, recording secretary; William Trifone, finance director; and Sean Gilrein, superintendent.
- Wednesday, 18 April 2012
- Posted in Categories: : News