School Committee cuts $1 million from proposed budget

By Matthew Bernat | Apr 05, 2017
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Business Manager Michael MacMillan discusses cuts to the proposed FY18 budget with the School Committee on Wednesday.

Business Manager Michael MacMillan arrived at Wednesday’s School Committee meeting ready to deliver something town officials have been adamant about – a hefty cut in the school district's proposed FY18 budget

MacMillan, who oversees district finances, unveiled a list of nine line item reductions. The cuts close the gap between what school officials originally requested and what the town can afford to pay. Those reductions amount to a $1,102,811 decrease, bringing the new budget proposal to $28.2 million. If approved, that figure marks an increase of 1.1 percent from this year.

“This budget has not been arrived at easily,” MacMillan told committee members. “It’s something we worked very closely on with the town.”

Originally, the committee requested a $29.9 million budget for the district: nearly $2 million higher than the town’s recommendation. Over several meetings with the Finance Committee and Town Administrator Derek Sullivan, who are wrestling with skyrocketing health care and pension costs, school officials learned that the funds just aren’t available.

MacMillan said cuts to transportation, curriculum, supplies and staff are necessary to meet the town’s recommended budget. Topping the list is a $743,586 staff reduction.

“That is the most significant cut, staff positions. That would require reducing 10 and a half positions,” said MacMillan. He added that some of those cuts will be due to retirements. On a positive note, he said the district is looking to hire eight and half new teachers so only two teaching positions will be lost.

Additional cuts on the list are: $110,000 for custodial supplies, $77,284 for other supplies and services, $35,000 for curriculum and $100,000 for transportation.

Regarding transportation, MacMillan said the savings will come from removing bus service for all students who live within 2-miles of school. Currently, only students who live within 1-mile of school must walk.

“That’s obviously a big change,” said MacMillan, noting that 400 students will be affected by the decision.

School Committee members thanked MacMillan and town officials for working together on the issue. The proposed FY18 budget was approved with three separate motions. Each motion passed 4-0-1 with committee member Mary Morgan abstaining on all three occasions.

To become official, voters at Annual Town Meeting will have to approve the school budget. Town Meeting is set for April 24 at 7 p.m. in the Wareham High School Auditorium.

Comments (18)
Posted by: Knocked for six | Apr 06, 2017 06:42

Not one mention of cutting administration! No one will penetrate that circle!

Posted by: cranky pants | Apr 06, 2017 07:28

No doubt !!

Posted by: WantToSeeChange | Apr 06, 2017 11:07

Woah!  This needs a bit more clarification.  So, currently kids who live 1 mile away from school do not get bus transportation.  Now it will be 2 miles away?  I don't think that ANY kids should be forced to walk to school.  I also understand that many of the kids now don't walk but instead get driven by their parents.  This CLOGS up every school every morning with cars driving the kids to school.

Now lets move forward to next year.  2 miles.  So, a middle school kid who lives as far away as Kool Kone will be walking or being driven to school.  A middle schooler who lives as far away as Minot Forest School will be walking or being driven to school.  The entire Oakdale neighborhood just lost bus service no matter where they go to school (unless it is Decas for that neighborhood, I am not sure).  Most Swifts Beach middle/high school kids just lost bus service.

See where I am going here?  Why have bus service?  The buses currently just get in the way of all the parents driving their kids to school.  How much worse do we need it?   They should take a good long look at this.  Cut somewhere else.

Posted by: Peaches0409 | Apr 06, 2017 11:22

Want to see change, I couldn't agree more! I'm sorry but we already have enough trouble getting kids to and keeping them in school! This was the last thing that should have been cut! How about our top heavy administration? Makes me sick that the kids will be the ones to suffer while the fat cats keep collecting their fat paychecks! UGH!!

Posted by: Knocked for six | Apr 06, 2017 17:52

The parents need to be responsible to get there children to school.

Posted by: Peaches0409 | Apr 06, 2017 18:06

Knocked are you aware of where you live? There are many parents who don't have cars, or who have to be at work before the kids go to school. They rely on the bus to get their kids to school safely.

Posted by: Knocked for six | Apr 06, 2017 19:07

maybe it's time for parents to be responsible for themselves and  their children! Stop enabling!

Posted by: rhbinma | Apr 06, 2017 20:57

I don't see a problem with the walking I grew up in New Bedford and walked to school from k-12. And I lived just under 2 miles from middle and high school. And when they talk about cuts you NEVER hear it said to make them pay more for insurance or any of there benefits.Just like all these town jobs let them all pay there fair share like we all do.

Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Apr 06, 2017 22:05

Well I see a helluva problem.  "A typical walking rate for school-aged children is about 2.7 miles per hour."  And if they're carrying one of those stupid backpacks: "Both backpack weight and time carried influenced cervical and shoulder posture. Forward head posture increased when carrying a backpack, especially one with a heavy load. Carrying a backpack weighing 15% of body weight appeared to be too heavy to maintain standing posture for adolescents."


Well, they could ride bikes.  Might even be a good idea to ride bikes if our third-world streets and highways weren't full of texting bimbos driving mommy-tanks.  That presumes the weather is decent.  Why would we expect children to spend 30 to 90 minutes biking or hiking to school in crappy weather when many of us won't even go to our mailboxes in a downpour?  Or at subzero temperatures?


Posted by: Peaches0409 | Apr 07, 2017 09:14

^ thank you!!

Knocked, expecting a elementary school age child to walk two miles is ridiculous.


Posted by: Uptohere | Apr 08, 2017 10:35

SMH how can you cut busing without cutting from the top down first. Is it possible to have an impartial account deal with the school budget because they really seem clueless.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Apr 08, 2017 11:44

Could it be that the school department is hoping that concerns for student safety will generate amendments at Town Meeting to the budget thus providing additional funding?


How many of you remember a few years back when teacher layoffs were threatened if the school department didn't get the additional funding that it craved...and then when the threat didn't generate the desired additional funding, teachers weren't laid off.


Another year, another need to look at the number (and salaries) of administrators...and make some tough decisions.



Posted by: WantToSeeChange | Apr 08, 2017 12:34

Andrea, I too had wondered about the old smoke and mirror tricks.  History does have a tendency to repeat itself.

Posted by: jjjjjj | Apr 08, 2017 23:05

Andrea, It's a fair question.  Straight out of the municipal budget playbook if that's the case.  Instead of cutting administration or leadership, you cut something that will get everyday people upset.  In some big cities they start with trash pickup - let things get nice and stinky.  The public eventually demand a solution - and it serves to distract from other areas that weren't cut.

Posted by: Chaka | Apr 09, 2017 00:39

1) cut school administrator salaries, they all get a 5% reduction, sorry union, your folks aren't getting the job done. Don't like it? Go work elsewhere. Like our superintendent is trying to do.

2) no raises for any town employees. Not until they eliminate the waste of two fire districts and two water depts. you can't have it both ways.

3)Make town employees contribute more to their healthcare and retirement like the rest of us have to do. Face the ugly truth, The days of 100% employer paid benefits are over.

4) Stop making money off the sewer customers. We know what you are doing. You tried to fake us out by giving us citizen sewer commissioners to answer to their fellow citizens. but you wouldn't let them see the real numbers, wouldn't let them follow the money trail. You only allowed them to make policy, what's the point of that. We need transparency, not bs committees which waste people's time. Time to explain why the rates keep going up and the water keeps getting worse, cause the town is taking the money.

Posted by: Knocked for six | Apr 10, 2017 18:35

Chaka.....try a little fact checking.

Posted by: Chaka | Apr 10, 2017 19:22

KOS, What do you disagree with?


Posted by: Knocked for six | Apr 24, 2017 18:38

Chaka: I'll go with 1 and 3.

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