By Charlie Breitrose/Daily News staff
The MetroWest Daily News
Posted May 04, 2010 @ 10:05 AM
NATICK — School Committee members last night unanimously approved a budget that includes some job cuts, but not as many as they feared just a few weeks ago.
The $44 million fiscal 2011 budget being sent to the Finance Committee is $1.8 million more than fiscal 2010, a 4.4 percent increase, Superintendent Peter Sanchioni said.
The first draft of the budget included a $701,000 deficit, Sanchioni said, but the budget approved by the board shrank the gap to $268,000. A boost in state aid helped reduce the deficit by $512,000.
The money allowed several jobs to be put back into the budget, including a high school science teacher, four media assistants, a reading specialist and two library media assistants.
Some cuts will still be made, Sanchioni said, including two reading specialists, a building support facilitator at Wilson Middle School, and reduction in hours for the chorus teacher at Natick High.
School Committee member Anne Blanchard voiced worry that the cuts in staff may result in larger class sizes. Sanchioni said they would not go up.
The additional state aid came to Natick three weeks ago, but School Committee Chairman Dirk Coburn said just because Natick received it for fiscal 2011 that does not mean it will be available in fiscal 2012.
While around half the new state aid will be used to restore cuts, the other half will go into Natick's reserve account. Coburn said that was done to avoid a sharp funding drop.
"It is fair to say that some part of the funds are being used to turn a funding cliff into a funding slope," he said.
Besides restoring some jobs, $100,000 will go back into the special education circuit breaker account, which provides money for students who require the costliest services.
School Committee member Anne Zernicke said she is glad to see the money going into that account.
"I think it is a wise move to replenish the circuit breaker," she said.
While the budget is larger than fiscal 2010, Blanchard said Natick lost some state aid last year. School Committee member Amy Mistrot said the School Committee would be dealing with a much worse situation if the town had not approved a Proposition 2 1/2 override two years ago.
"I want to thank the public for passing the operational override," Mistrot said. "The cuts we are dealing with are miniscule compared to what we would be making without it."
(Charlie Breitrose can be reached at 508-626-3964 or email@example.com.)