Gloucester's school district has decided to hold off on adding some new positions to meet its budget of of $44,388,897 for fiscal year 2021.

The final budget for the schools represents a 2.89% increase in spending from fiscal 2020, which ends Tuesday, June 30. 

The School Committee voted on Wednesday evening to approve the $44,388,897 budget, which was approximately $404,000 less than what it had requested from the City Council earlier this year.  The budget number was approved by the council earlier this month. 

Prior to Wednesday night's vote, the School Committee's Building and Finance Subcommittee held a discussion about the tenuous nature of the next school year and the needs and learning environment that has yet to be defined, said Subcommittee Chairperson Kathy Clancy. 

"We looked at the positions that have fit within the increase that the city gave us," she explained. "We had a really good discussion about having some contingency for the uncertainty that is next year, but also zeroed into what positions we think would have great impact and need that are within our Option A that we had put forth in previous meetings in terms of what our recommended budget was."   

The new positions that Building and Finance Subcommittee recommended to hold off on hiring for include: 

Elementary Schools: Math coach.

O'Maley Innovation Middle School:  English-language learner (ELL) paraprofessional and Pace and literacy interventionist.

Gloucester High School: Increase of hours and responsibility for a coordinator of special education and for a special education program leader. 

"The net difference gets us to that approved budget with all of the additions and increases in our budget plus the positions that are in the motion that we recommend get filled," Clancy said. 

The approved budget does create positions for one ELL teacher to work between Beeman Elementary and O'Maley Middle School, a Gloucester High School adjustment counselor, one reading specialist, and an increase in time for the Gloucester High School ELL coordinator.

About $151,590,  reflective of the salary portion of the five positions that are on hold, will be added to the schools' main office contingency account for a total balance of $352,000 that will be used "for the unknown which we are sure to face," as Chairman Jonathan Pope said. 

"Depending on how the summer shapes ups and what the needs are and how things are defined we possibly would consider some of these positions as opposed to leaving it in contingency," Clancy said Wednesday evening. 

Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@gloucestertimes.com.

Recommended for you