NB Preliminary FY18 School Budget Revealed
New Bedford school officials revealed a preliminary $145,420,517 budget for FY18 on Monday night.
That number includes $10-million in enhancement requests, which are considered important to moving the district toward their performance goals. This includes hiring a number of new reading and teaching specialists, science curriculum materials, and 12 new English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers.
Superintendent Pia Durkin presented the budget's initial issues to the school committee, which include what officials called 'a historic low' for state aid increases.
In 2017, Massachusetts increased Chapter 70 funding by 2.58%, and by 2.53% the year before. The state will be increasing the aid by only 1.96% in 2018, which means less allocation to New Bedford and other communities.
Charter school reimbursements and a variety of other district costs are taken out of the state aid.
The Alma Del Mar charter school has been approved for an additional 90 seats, which officials expect to add to the budgetary challenges.
Costs for health insurance, retirement assessments, special education tuition, and other items have increased more than the Chapter 70 growth, according to officials.
"The needs just keep multiplying. We are an urban district. We are a very poor district, and we have children entering our school system [that are] greatly diverse, which is an asset but with a great many challenges," Durkin told WBSM News.
School officials will hold two more meetings this month to cut down the preliminary numbers before holding a final budget presentation to the school committee in April.
The school committee will vote on the budget in May before it's reviewed by the mayor and then finalized by the city council.