The Newton school budget received some relief Tuesday night, receiving an estimated $975,000 to be put toward restoring cut teachers and programs, including the middle school Latin program and electives at the high school.
The School Committee will receive around $200,000 in state aid, and an anticipated $775,000 in circuit breaker reimbursement funds for special education services beyond what was original budgeted. With the additional money several programs and teachers previously cut in the budget will be retained.
“The add-backs allows us to have some flexibility in terms of reserves because there is always some unexpected items that come up and also we have been able to make some restorations that were most painful,” vice chairwoman Reenie Murphy said in an interview. The total budget for 2012 is around $50 million.
One notable program which will now be retained is the middle school Latin program. According to a memo by deputy superintendent Sandra Guryan, the seventh and eighth grade program will receive $87,210 in funds and and the equivalent of 1.6 full-time staff people. “This was an area ... people felt strongly about,” Murphy said.
At the high school level, three of the 9.8 full-time equivalent positions originally cut at Newton North and Newton South high schools will also be retained. Students at both high schools will be able to select electives that were previously closed, and the additional staffing “will provide a more reasonable class size experience,” Guryan said.
“At the high school level, you can do a small percentage of the positions which will help facilitate either class sizes or other opportunities for students,” said Joe Russo, assistant superintendent for elementary education, in an interview.
The retained staffing at the high schools use $162,000 of the additional funds.
A special education finance director will also be added. According to Guryan, the director will be the full-time of 0.8 and will cost $52,000. The new position will provide financial oversight of the student services budget. “This approach has worked successfully in another district and resulted in savings through analysis,” she said.
“They will oversee the special education budget to look for efficiencies,” said Russo.
Around $256,500 will be held for various reserves.
-- Guryan said $108,000 will be held toward a student services reserve. This will give the school the option of adding two full-time equivalent staff members. “The funds will allow for adjustments as students’ needs are identified,” she said.
-- $54,000 will be held toward an elementary class size reserve. The amount will give the option of hiring one full-time equivalent staff member. Guryan said the funding will be used depending on the actual enrollment before school begins.
-- $40,500 will be used to purchase additional buses if it is required with the additional buffer zone schools implemented earlier in the year.
-- Also $54,000 will be held to hire one full-time equivalent staff member. Guryan said, “The funding will be held in reserve for enrollment or problematic needs.”
“This gives us more flexibility, allows us to restore a few of the areas that were cut, that were particularly problematic for the students,” said Murphy. “We feel now that we are going in with some cushion, so when anything unexpected comes up we might be able to address it with the reserve budget.”
Derek McLean can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.