Wareham Public School officials: lean budget may bring staff cuts

By Matthew Bernat | Dec 06, 2017
Photo by: Matthew Bernat From left: Selectman Patrick Tropeano, Selectmen Chair Peter Teitelbaum, Wareham Public Schools Business Administrator Michael McMillan and Town Administrator Derek Sullivan talk before Wednesday night's school budget presentation.

Wareham Public Schools officials say staff cuts might be necessary as they consider a fiscal year 2019 budget challenged by a paltry increase in town revenue.

Building the budget has “proven to be very difficult as the divide between our students and available resources continues to widen,” said Superintendent Kimberly Shaver-Hood on Wednesday night. She spoke at a joint public hearing between the School and Finance Committees where two Selectmen and Town Administrator Derek Sullivan were present as well.

Shaver-Hood and Wareham Public Schools Business Administrator Michael McMillan presented a budget of $29,413,679, which is up $1,033,576 (3.6 percent) compared to the previous fiscal year.

Major drivers of the increase include contractually obligated staff raises, tuition for special education students that must be sent out of the district for services and transportation costs.

McMillan said to build that budget officials examined every line item to keep the increase minimal. However, “the reality is a large chunk of that will come from a reduction in positions,” he said. It’s unclear how many staff positions may be cut, but McMillan said officials are hopeful some will come from retirements.

Officials are also looking at reducing the transportation budget by $200,000. That will likely be done through changing bus routes to improve efficiency and partnering with the town to identify areas where costs can be reduced, he said.

Selectmen Chair Peter Teitelbaum said all town departments must deal with a difficult budget season. Each department head was told to develop a level service budget compared to last year. He said many department heads balked at the request, but the town is facing a stark fiscal reality.

“We expect a minimal increase in revenue,” said Teitelbaum. “Well below one percent of the overall budget.”

At a previous budget hearing, Selectman Alan Slavin said current estimates put increased revenue at approximately $56,000.

Despite that, Teitelbaum said town and school officials are committed to working together.

“Once again, we see what we need, we see what we don’t have and we will have to engage in the process of whittling,” said Teitelbaum. “It’s regrettable.”

The budget isn’t finalized yet and will likely be approved by the School Committee at its Dec. 20 meeting, set for 7 p.m. in the Wareham Middle School auditorium. After that vote the budget will go before Selectmen for review. Ultimately, the school budget must be approved by voters at the Spring Town Meeting.

Comments (10)
Posted by: Spherebreaker | Dec 07, 2017 07:20

Every year the same dumb game is played. 3.6% increase is insane. Make the cuts! and then make some more.

Posted by: cranky pants | Dec 07, 2017 08:19

Make all the cuts you need, you got Super-superintendent... She's over there getting awards and trophies for how awesome she is.

Start the cuts at the tops, because generally it's the ones in the trenches that contribute the most.

Posted by: Uptohere | Dec 07, 2017 08:55

But you had no problem giving Kim a raise.  Well cancel it. And save a lot of money by tossing her.

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Dec 07, 2017 09:37

Increase the revenue! Get blighted properties back on the tax rolls. Attract well paying, high tech jobs not burger joints. Your superintendent is only still here because no one else would have her and you rewarded her. Decimating your already failing schools is hardly a good investment for attracting families who WANT to send their children here. Do your jobs or hand Wareham schools over to the state. Bravo to the teachers who keep trying despite all of this.

Posted by: Doctor Deekas | Dec 07, 2017 10:15

Folks....we have MORE and MORE businesses coming to Wareham on a yearly basis - just look at West Wareham! Yet, we have to cut our budgets every year with all of this tax revenue? Well, let's consider one thing - we gave a tax relief to the new Hotel for the next 10-15 years so we are making zip there. Our Town is so mismanaged and so misguided. All of the surrounding towns would love to have the amount of business we have to offset their tax rolls and yet, here in Wareham, we screw it up year after year. We don't have a Recreation Dept. We barely have a library or Council on Aging. We are lucky to have a Maintenance Dept, and those numbers only increased when they assimilated the School Bus maintenance into their group. Our roads are a disaster and the snowplowing is close to one. All of the surrounding towns around us have decent numbers in all of those departments listed and they don't have the commercial revenue that we have. It's disgusting and the voters need to wake up and get off autopilot.

Posted by: cranky pants | Dec 07, 2017 13:07

Another spot on post from Doc...

Posted by: WWreader | Dec 07, 2017 13:45

Gee Doc. Maybe you should get your facts straight before spouting your fake news. Every year we get $150,000 from the hotel in rooms and meal tax. Just check revenues in the town budget. It's there in black and white. Over the life of the TIF the town will come out ahead. That budget also lists every penny of revenue and every penny of expense. If you think there is some sort of funny business going on why don't you  prove it? Of course that would require facts, something your comments rarely include.

Posted by: Doctor Deekas | Dec 08, 2017 08:49

WWreader....my post did include facts. Surrounding towns, in fact, have recreation departments, more people in municipal maintenance, and take care of their public parks/playgrounds/trash, etc. Those are facts. It is also fact that those surrounding communities do not have the commercial base that Wareham has. It is also fact that their Council on Aging and Library departments function normally, and not on very shoe-string budgets or hours. I would also argue that the roads have less pot holes and are in better condition, on average, in the surrounding communities. You can disagree with me on whether I believe we are using the hotel/motel tax correctly, but we certainly didn't help that fund by giving the TIF to the new hotel. I didn't say we don't get hotel/motel tax, I said we don't get it from the new hotel because we were so smart at Town Meeting. EVERY YEAR, Wareham is cutting, and here we are, giving more breaks like we have any to give. The commercial base is growing every year in Wareham, yet, we are not catching up. The roads are not improving. The schools are not improving. There is no town trash pickup. There is no one hired back to start a recreation department. There is no additional funding for the COA or Library to function fully. Oh, and by the way, Wareham and Onset wouldn't have Fire or Water if they didn't pay ADDITIONAL taxes to have those services from essentially private companies. But, yes, I don't want the facts to get in the way!

Posted by: WWreader | Dec 08, 2017 10:23

Fact: the TIF agreement only abated a portion of the property tax for 15 years. It did NOT abate the hotel and meals taxes.


Posted by: Doctor Deekas | Dec 08, 2017 13:16

Wwreader, thank you then. We both agree on all the other facts I laid out above. You also made me remember that not all of the surrounding towns employ the meals or hotel tax either, and somehow they aren't broke like we are (and we do collect those taxes to their full extents). I'm not asking you to solve the answers, I'm pointing out the questions. Why are we growing exponentially over the surrounding communities but we can't make ends meet? We can't even provide trash, water or fire service for our taxes that we do pay. There are no recent capital expenditures of debt exclusion or Prop 2-1/2 costs that are devouring the budget, so where is all of this new tax revenue from the commercial expansion going?

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