The Hingham Public Schools system is projecting a 5.98 percent increase in the budget for fiscal 2013, which seeks to maintain services for a growing student population.
According to John Ferris, Business Director for Hingham Public Schools, the Special Education portion of the budget will increase 11.23 percent (from $9,450,450 to $10,511,729) from FY12 to FY13, and the regular education part of the budget will increase 4.02 percent (from $28,911,445 to $30,074,788).
The reasons for the increases are different for both portions of the budget, which have been separated for the first time this year to further clarify to the public budgets which the school has little control over (special education) and those that they can influence (regular education).
For Special Education, Ferris said the increases are to pay for the tuitions of several special needs students that have come under Hingham’s umbrella.
According to Ferris, Hingham must pay the tuition and provide transportation to any special needs student who requires out of district placement.
“A lot of it has to do with some move-ins that happened during the past few weeks. And prior to that, over the summer, there were some students returning to Hingham. We were beyond the FY12 budget, but that is impacted FY13 because they are projected to stay. Since September there are three additional students coming into town with special needs,” Ferris said.
As for the regular budget, increases are the result of higher fuel prices, a two percent salary increase as mandated by the teacher’s contract negotiated last year, and a transportation contract for busses that is up for renewal this year.
Furthermore, Hingham will add four, full-time employees – two at the secondary level and two at the elementary level, to keep up with the growing student body and help alleviate large class sizes.
Additionally, three assistant coaches' stipends will be added also to deal with growing enrollment in track and girls volleyball, and the school will fund 77 hours of reading tutors to replace a previously grant funded program.
To help compensate for some added costs, School Committee members have voted to increase the fees of full day kindergarten from $2,850 to $3,000. Additionally, pre-K fees will go to $1,680 for the three-day program, and $2,205 for the four-day program.
As of yet, no other fees have yet been brought up for discussion or raised.
School Committee members are still working all of the numbers out, and will finalize the budget on Feb. 27. The budget will then go to the Advisory Committee and to Selectmen for approval in early March before going before Town Meeting in April.
Although Hingham officials have met budget increases with reluctance in the past, Ferris had no idea what their reaction may be this time around.
“I don’t have any statement on that, I don’t know, I really don’t know until all is said and done,” Ferris said. “We need to go to the process and see where the school committee, advisory and selectmen will come out, and it’s not always unanimous. They are good, working committees and ultimately I hope we get the best solution for the town and for the schools.”