“Nothing is decided,” Forget said. “There is about $1.2 million in new expenditures and there is a possibility of assessing $1 million more to the three towns. The process is now ongoing.”
Currently involved in his eighth school budget as a Rowley selectman, Dave Petersen had a look at the budget proposals during a special school committee meeting on Saturday, Jan. 25 and said this year’s model is nothing new.
“They are not looking for anything outlandish or out of the ordinary,” Petersen said. “Obviously, costs are going up for the schools just like anything else. The numbers are starting at a reasonable level and I’m sure there will be some back-and-forth. I think we should be able to come to some agreement without too much trouble as far as Rowley is concerned. We are all kind of hoping that the governor would propose some increases in local aid and that the increases in Chapter 70 would be bigger. But we’ll see what happens as it goes through the legislative process.”
Requests for reinforcements in technology and special education were at the top of the five principals’ wish lists while maintenance and repairs to all the school buildings were among the must-do items. Forget said that class size and student support are sacred items to the district and stressed no one is talking cuts at this time.
“No one can make any assumptions yet,” Forget said. “We are still teasing out the must-dos but people need to be affirmed that we are focusing on a budget that is a must-do budget. I wouldn’t even venture a guess on what the bottom line would be.”
The final budget numbers are due to be presented to the three towns on March 15. The budget must then pass in two of the three towns.
“It’s going to be a very tight year,” Forget said. “Last year we had a lot of savings to offset increases. Increases aren’t going up exorbitantly but it’s looking a lot tighter than it did last year.”