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Wellesley passes $120 million budget

Posted by Caitlin Castello  April 7, 2010 03:13 PM

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As Wellesley Town Meeting members approved a $120 million dollar budget this week, they voted in favor of concussion testing for middle school athletes and a new in-district special education program for elementary students.

In January, the School Committee approved money to test middle school athletes for concussions, reflecting a growing concern parents and school officials that youth sports pose a risk for head injuries.

"I think these kids are learning these sports at the middle school and it’s the appropriate time to start it," said School Committee member Suzy Littlefield.

The School Committee approved the testing for all sports at the middle school, while concussion testing is already done at the high school.

The School Committee requested $55,031.413 from Town Meeting. Its budget was about 3 percent over the guideline set by the Advisory Committee, the town’s financial panel.

Reductions to the schools included eliminating two teaching assistant positions, eliminating new library books, reducing expenses, and reducing high school buses. The schools are imposing a $100 band/orchestra fee for the elementary school in an effort to avoid reductions to the program, and raising the middle school athletic fee to $125 from $100.

The new special education program would save the school district $122,437, because it would serve students in the Wellesley public schools instead of paying to send them out of district. The Elementary Therapeutic Program would provide a structured setting and program with therapeutic support for students who have emotional and social needs, said Superintendent Bella Wong.

The Advisory Committee instructed town departments to build in a 1 percent increase in their budgets, which most towns met. There was no call for an override of Proposition 2 ½, the fourth year without an override for Wellesley.

“Fiscal restraint assisted in many ways not matter how small and town departments should be congratulated,” said Peter Corey, chair of the Advisory Committee.

The library will be cutting 22 part-time hours from the circulation department and the preservation assistant’s hours will be reduced from 20 hours per week to 7 hours per week.

Caitlin Castello canbe reached at caitlincastello@gmail.com.

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