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$24.3 million level services school budget proposed; 6.21 percent increase due to contractual obligations and special ed costs
$24.3 million level services school budget proposed; 6.21 percent increase due to contractual obligations and special ed costs
$24.3 million level services school budget proposed; 6.21 percent increase due to contractual obligations and special ed costs

Published on: 04/12/2024

Description

3W5A0125 - Cohasset, Ma

April 11, 2024 By Carol Britton Meyer

There were no questions or comments on the proposed $24.3 million Fiscal 2025 school operating budget at Wednesday’s public hearing, with School Committee Chair Lance Dial interpreting the silence as a “public endorsement of the work of the committee.”

The meeting was held in person at the Learning Commons at the Cohasset Middle-High School, with Zoom access available.

The proposed level services budget presented by Cohasset Public Schools Director of Finance and Operations Susan Owen represents a $1.4 million — or 6.21 percent – increase over the FY2024 budget due to contractual obligations and a $342,399 increase in special education costs.

The only cuts included in the FY25 budget proposal are two educational support professional positions that are unfilled at this time ($50,000 savings) and a reduction of nearly $20,000 in the supplies/materials budget.

A projected savings of $180,000 from expected retirements is also factored into the budget request.

Requests that were made but not funded in this budget include an elementary adjustment counselor; increases to the utilities and custodial supplies/materials budgets; Grade 4 teacher at Deer Hill; technology teachers at Osgood and Deer Hill; a special education kindergarten teacher at Osgood; a library media specialist at Deer Hill; making a .50 English Language Learners position fulltime; and increasing the MS-HS occupational therapist position from .80 to fulltime.

Proposed cuts of technology ESPs at Osgood and Deer Hill and a library ESP at Deer Hill were not included in the budget.

Future budget goals include:

  • continuing to expand support for social emotional learning, therapeutic offerings, and technology integration;
    exploring the possible implementation of elementary foreign language;
  • continuing to build the computer science pathway for students and the focus on the safety and securing of school buildings;
    upgrading facilities;
  • continuing to focus on culturally responsive teaching — including diversity, equity, and inclusive practices and resources;
  • continuing to expand K-12 arts and music offerings;
  • exploring the potential hiring of elementary assistant principals; andexpanding vocational/innovation offerings for students as well as project-based learning options and health, physical education, and wellness offerings and facilities.

Supt. of Schools Patrick Sullivan noted under “2023 MCAS Headlines” that Cohasset High School and Deer Hill Elementary School were among the 66 schools recognized by the state for demonstrating “high achievement and strong growth under the state’s accountability system.”

The “report card” issued to the Cohasset Public Schools by the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education was 99% —  based on targets set for achievement, growth, English learner progress, abseenteeism, high school completion, and advanced coursework completion.

Districts and schools with a target percentage of 75 percent or higher are considered to be meeting or exceeding these targets.

During their regular meeting following the brief public hearing on the proposed school budget, the School Committee unanimously approved the FY2025 school operating and $554,429 capital budgets as presented and also took three separate votes on proposed allocations from the school stabilization fund created at the December 2023 Special Town Meeting — currently totaling $1.5 million — with expected additional $1.5 million annual allocations in future years.

The votes, amounting to $725,000, were as follows:

  • $175,000 for a Cohasset Middle-High School fire alarm engineering study — passed;
  • $250,000 related to school building safety — lighting, health and infrastructure considerations, and signage at CM-HS — passed on a 3-2 vote;
  • $300,000 to finish the retiling of all the Deer Hill classrooms — passed.

The capital budget includes funding for the lease of eight diesel and one electric school buses; replacement of aging — and some new — Chromebooks and also furniture (Deer Hill); and a 48-month lease for two new athletics 15-passenger vans.

New Supt. of Schools Sarah Shannon was in the audience. “We are very excited about her accepting our appointment and look forward to working with her in the future,” Dial said.

The FY2025 proposed school operating and capital  budgets, along with the request for allocations from the school stabilization fund, with be on the June 3 Annual Town Meeting warrant.

The School Committee is the only board to vote on the proposed budget so far.

The next steps in the process are meeting with the Capital Budget Committee for a second time and also the Advisory Committee regarding the budget proposals.

The budget presentations will be posted on the CPS website by Friday, April 12.

News Source : https://cohassetanchor.com/24-3-million-level-services-school-budget-proposed-6-21-percent-increase-due-to-contractual-obligations-and-special-ed-costs/

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