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May 7, 2013

City schools to get $1M hike in budget

Mayor Carolyn Kirk is budgeted for school spending to jump by $1 million in fiscal 2014 from the city’s school allocation in the current year, but that number will still fall short of the $1.3 million increase the School Committee had requested.

According to a budget summary Kirk will present to the City Council tonight, the mayor has suggested providing the public schools with $36,398,748 for the next fiscal year, though the School Committee had requested $37,706,353, what would be a 6 percent increase from last year’s $35,398,748 in direct school funding.

“We just couldn’t fund it,” Kirk said. “We didn’t cut in schools, we just didn’t give as high of a raise.”

Kirk will hand off her balanced $92.8 million budget proposal, with a 2.3 percent overall increase, to the City Council during its City Hall meeting tonight — at which point the budget becomes the council’s to work with, she said Monday. The council is expected to hand off the budget to the council’s own Committee on Budget and Finance.

In the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Conn., some Gloucester residents became increasingly anxious about our school buildings’ security levels. Independent of the schools’ budget, Kirk has budgeted city spending on repairs to school facilities, which the Department of Public Works will perform.

In her summary, Kirk pegs the “overall city spending on education” at $47.6 million, with the inclusion of those costs covered by city departments, notably the Department of Public Works.

The city, in Kirk’s budget, would throw a total of about $11 million toward school-related debt, the facilities repairs, funding the regional vocational school, health insurance for retired teachers, and school choice tuition. Kirk said allotting the money for building repairs “forces the School Committee’s hand” on they will spend that money.

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