To the editor:
Tonight at 7 p.m., the City Council will be holding its fiscal 2014 budget hearing at Kyrouz Auditorium in City Hall.
The hearing is for community members to voice input regarding priorities for city spending, and I am writing to specifically ask that parents, guardians and community members attend to express support for the School Department budget put forth by the School Committee with educational priorities for fiscal ‘14.
The proposed $37,706,353 budget reflects what the School Department considers necessary to provide high quality education for our community’s children. Your support is important because the budget that the Mayor has put forth is $1,307,302 less than what has been proposed by the School Committee.
If the budget passes as the mayor has proposed, the district will need to cut programs and teaching resources, and achievement initiatives may be stalled.
The School Committee’s budget is based on:
Teaching resources in line with enrollment;
Special education services for specific student needs;
Salary cost increases in line with recent city department settlements;
Student achievement goals.
During the current school year, 130 additional students either transferred or enrolled in our schools. Many came from the charter school. In addition, St. Ann’s families have either enrolled or expressed interest in attending Gloucester Public Schools this coming September.
The budget put forth by the School Committee reflects this increased enrollment and required educational services. Some of the priorities are as follows and can be found on the superintendent’s fiscal 2014 budget Power Point presentation and full fiscal 2014 budget book at www.gloucesterschools.com.
A key priority in the budget is for kindergarten through 8th grade math instruction and professional development.
The goal is improving achievement for all students – providing increased challenge for all, more rigor for advanced students, and remedial focus for those who require it. Two new positions would enable the district to put a similar emphasis on math instruction that the district piloted three years ago in the area of literacy and, as of this school year, has been implemented in all five elementary schools.
The middle school budget includes two new teachers and an additional special education teacher for Grade 7, which are required based on enrollment, as well as a math intervention position related to student needs. Priorities at the high school include an IT specialist to help with programs established to meet 21st-century learning skills. Additionally, a school resource officer is proposed who would be centered at the high school, but would have responsibilities for training and education throughout all grades.
The special education cost budget is built from the bottom-up each year based on individual student needs and out-of-district tuition increases. This accounts for a significant amount of the increase over the fiscal 2013 budget level.
In summary, the FY14 budget proposed by the School Committee reflects core educational needs based on enrollment, specific student needs and educational priorities for our students.
Please attend the Public Hearing on the fiscal 2014 budget to support the School Department budget which is a vital investment in our community’s future – our children.
If you cannot attend the public hearing, written comments can also be sent to Linda Lowe, city clerk at LLowe@gloucester-m-.gov.
Gloucester School Committee member
Chair of Building and Finance subcommittee