At the 12/18 meeting, 2019-20 budget discussions continued with a presentation on Student Support Services. There was also an update on the Mitchell modulars.
Student Support Services Budget
Mary Lammi and Matt Ganas presented the budget request for the Student Support Service, which encompasses:
Section 504 Accommodation Plans
English Language Education
Home Hospital Tutoring
For the most part the budget requested will maintain current levels of service, including several staff positions that were previously paid for by grants that must now shift to the operating budget. The opening of Sunita Williams will allow the ELC program, which was previously split between Newman (K-2) and Hillside (3-5) to be housed in one school, but no new staffing will be required other than an increase to the Special Education Coordinator position to allow for oversight of the expanded program.
Data for special education enrollment and staff caseloads was presented to support the few staffing increases requested. All numbers refer to FTE (full time equivalent), with a 0.2 increase representing one school day.
1.0 Special Education Teacher at Broadmeadow
0.3 School Psychologist at Pollard
0.2 Guidance Counselor at Broadmeadow
0.2 Guidance Counselor at Eliot
0.2 Guidance Counselor at Sunita Williams
0.4 Special Education Coordinator at Sunita Williams
0.2 Upgrade ELL Coordinator to Administrative Position
Much discussion focused on the increase in guidance, with agreement among SC members that mental health issues and the changing demographics of the town put more demands on the guidance department.
Mitchell School Modulars
A last-minute addition to agenda was an update on the Mitchell Modular project, which has hit a snag. The modulars were deemed necessary to allow full-day Kindergarten to be implemented at Mitchell and to ease crowding in the aging school, which is not due to be rebuilt for several more years. Town Meeting approved funds for the construction of the modulars in October, but the construction bid exceeds the amount allocated by about $700,000. Factors cited include fewer companies bidding on projects and increased costs for labor and materials.
Meetings have taken place with the Town Manager and PPBC, and the recommendation is to convene a Special Town Meeting to approve the additional funds prior to January 30th, otherwise the project will be delayed by a year. The Finance Committee has identified a source of funding within the current budget, but Town Meeting must approve the expenditure.
SC voted unanimously to endorse a recommendation that the Select Board convene a Special Town meeting to approve the additional funds. Given the previous support from various Town Boards, Town Meeting, and the community, the SC hopes the article will pass easily.