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School cuts approved in Quincy;
taxes may rise next year

Posted by dinouye  June 9, 2010 08:52 PM

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Molly A. K. Connors, Town correspondent

As Quincy's School Committee finalized a budget last night that would lay off about 118 people, including approximately 75 teachers, Mayor Thomas P. Koch said residents may be hit with an "incremental" tax increase next year.

The $85.5 million school budget, which still requires a formal vote by School Committee members today and approval by the City Council on Monday, will contain cuts less painful than previously predicted but residents will still see reduced services, increased class sizes, and fees, officials said.

The schools had faced a roughly $9 million budget gap that would have resulted in about 200 layoffs, but approximately 80 jobs were restored after deferral of a 4 percent pay raise last month by the teachers’ union saved the schools close to $2.3 million.

In addition, the mayor found $500,000 in savings in the city’s budget, thus reducing the
anticipated unemployment payments. The city has promised that any savings on unemployment payments would go to the schools.

The mayor, who raised taxes in 2008 during his first year in office, has called the rate of growth in city government unsustainable and pledged not to raise property taxes to close a roughly $12 million budget gap in the city’s overall $230 million budget for fiscal year 2011, which begins on July 1 of this year.

However, in an interview after the school board hearing, Koch said such an increase may be inevitable for fiscal 2012.

“The reality is going forward we’re going to have to look at an incremental increase,” said Koch, who also said there are “too many unknowns” to discuss specifics about a tax hike.

Though she said it was “too little, too late,” School Committee member Anne M. Mahoney said she would still welcome a tax increase. “I’ll take anything I can get,” Mahoney said.

The schools, which received about 3.6 percent less from Koch for next fiscal year than this year, join other city departments that are also making cuts ranging from 3.7 percent to the police and fire departments to nearly 10 percent for the libraries.

If the final school budget clears its formal approvals, full-day kindergarten, middle school foreign language instruction, and the elementary school gifted children program will remain intact, but media and technology teachers at the middle and elementary
schools will be laid off, among other changes, officials said.

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