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Medford superintendent says $3.25m more needed to maintain services

Posted by Alix Roy  May 21, 2010 10:04 AM

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It will cost $3.25 million more than the current $43 million to fund a level-service school budget in fiscal 2011, which starts July 1, Superintendent Roy Belson said on Tuesday.

During a presentation to teachers and parents at the Andrews Middle School, Belson spelled out a list of unavoidable increases that the district will have to stomach this budget season, including $1.6 million in negotiated salary increases that were deferred last year. Special education costs continue to rise, and will do so by an estimated half million dollars in fiscal 2011, Belson said. The district also will absorb an estimated $100,000 increase in tuition costs for vocational students attending out-of-district programs.

Included in the list of increases is $250,000 to address elementary class size, a topic of longstanding concern among parents.
 
"I put it down as a projection as something that we should address going forward,” Belson told the crowd. “I don't know if I can sustain it, I'm going to be frank with you.”

In the current fiscal year, the school district received $11.4 million in Chapter 70 funds and operated with a $43 million budget. Medford's Chapter 70 allotment will likely hover around $11 million this coming year, Belson said, although no firm numbers are available just yet.
 
To cut costs, Belson will be looking to consolidate positions wherever possible. He's already decided not to hire a replacement for retiring Assistant Principal Ronda Brenner at the Columbus Elementary School.
 
“That's a salary I can use to offset costs,” he said. “It reflects our need to find dollars in a very, very difficult period.”

Medford's budget woes are not limited to its schools. Mayor Michael McGlynn is currently working to close an estimated $6 million gap in the city's fiscal 2011 operating budget. In late April, he attributed the gap to rising pension costs, health insurance costs, and an estimated $1.1 million decrease in local aid.

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