ATHOL—A preliminary model of the FY24 faculty price range reveals a give attention to curriculum enhancements to all grade ranges, in addition to a glance forward.
Superintendent Matt Ehrenworth and Enterprise Supervisor Leah Jack met with the Finance and Warrant Advisory Committee on Jan. 10 to offer a preview of the Athol Royalston Regional Faculty District price range being proposed for the upcoming fiscal yr, which begins July 1. Data given the committee didn’t embody particular line-item quantities, however did present an summary of the educational and operational priorities for FY24.
Ehrenworth careworn that the general proposed price range of $35.5 million is a “very preliminary” determine. The quantity contains anticipated Faculty Alternative funds totaling $250,000, Circuit Breaker funding of just below $819,000, and $2.4 million in grants. It represents a rise of roughly 14 % over the present fiscal yr’s price range of $31.3 million.
The superintendent mentioned educational priorities for FY24 embody the upkeep of “educational and emotional helps,” buy of latest English Language Acquisition curriculum on the elementary faculty degree, vertical alignment of the curriculum from prekindergarten to twelfth grade, evaluation of the science lessons, skilled growth , implementation of an early school program and Innovation Pathways applications for college kids involved in superior manufacturing or well being care careers.
Relating to the early school program, Ehrenworth mentioned, “In our grant applications, we had been awarded early school grants and we’re beginning some twin enrollment applications. We’ve some twin enrollment however we’re increasing our early school and profession applications.”
Ehrenworth added that he’s presently engaged on bettering the college district web site.
“I am hoping to probably have a presentation on that on the subsequent faculty committee assembly,” he mentioned. “Our web site is woefully outdated and actually not conducive to accessing something. So we have bought and new one and we’re engaged on the mock-up proper now.”
Shifting on to subsequent fiscal yr, the superintendent mentioned priorities embody a transition within the district’s monetary software program so as “to have some redundancy and ensure the platform is off-site and on-line,” a potential changeover in scholar data programs, ceiling repairs at Athol Excessive Faculty, a full evaluation of district services, growth of a long-term capital plan and potential submission of renovation plans to the Massachusetts Faculty Constructing Authority (MSBA).
Relative to this final merchandise, mentioned Ehrenworth, “I am beginning to have considerations relating to the inhabitants density within the space. There are new housing developments coming into the neighborhood and, fairly frankly, our elementary faculty is nearly already at capability.
Ehrenworth mentioned step one within the course of is a services evaluation, and the subsequent is bringing the neighborhood collectively and figuring out the district’s programming wants, what makes essentially the most sense for configuration of the grades, the buildings after which figuring out if something is important.
The entire course of, which features a district evaluation by the MSBA and a number of other different steps, would take 5 or 6 years to finish earlier than any work was begun.
Nonetheless, Ehrenworth defined, his rapid precedence is repairing the ceilings at the highschool.
“That shall be comparatively expensive,” he continued. “In all probability within the $400.00-$500,000 vary. Nonetheless, I can not have ceiling tiles dropping on college students’ heads for the subsequent 5 to 6 years whereas we’re seeing if we are able to get a brand new constructing constructed – or renovations completed – to accommodate the inhabitants.”
Jack identified that, whereas the district is anticipating Chapter 70 training funding within the quantity of almost $22.4 million, that determine in the end relies on the price range being put collectively by newly sworn-in Gov. Maura Healey. The district additionally forecasts a major bounce in Circuit Breaker funding, from $409,000 this yr to simply over $818,000 in FY24.
“For the Circuit Breaker, we’re anticipating a rise in income going into subsequent yr, not particularly for our particular training bills,” mentioned Jack. “For our Chapter 70, given the will increase in low-income funding for college kids in that inhabitants, we’re anticipating a rise in our Chapter 70 support as properly.”
In response to an inquiry from committee Vice Chair Ben Feldman, Ehrenworth defined, “Circuit Breaker is a reimbursement that the district will get for among the particular training expenditures…Circuit Breaker units a threshold the place, if the scholar prices the district…greater than $46,000 , the state will reimburse usually about 75 % of the fee above that $46,000.
“Once we see that enhance from $409,000 to $818,000 it is like, ‘Wow! We will get quite a lot of more money to work with.’ Really, that $818,000 is a reimbursement for the cash we needed to spend final yr. Likelihood is it is now at $818,000 as a result of those self same children have those self same companies, they’re in the identical out-of-district placements, and we’re most likely going to make use of all of that cash to pay for a similar degree of companies to ensure we’re assembly the wants of the scholars.”
As the method strikes ahead, Ehrenworth and Jack shall be assembly with city officers in each Athol and Royalston, refining price range projections, and presenting a extra detailed proposal at an all-boards assembly scheduled for March 8. Whereas the deadline for certifying the price range is April 26, Ehrenworth anticipates that step shall be accomplished by April 12. Remaining approval will come from the voters on the respective annual City Conferences—Royalston on June 10, Athol on June 12.
Greg Vine will be reached at email@example.com.