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  • catherinebrunell

Did salaries really go up by $6 million dollars this year?

As a School Committee member, budgeting is one of my top priorities. In fact, when the district faced budget cuts in 2021, it was one of the reasons I ran. Then, as federal Covid monies came in, I was consistent in asking questions about what we were going to do when the funding ran out. Last year, I courageously voted no on the motion to approve $84,848,689.00 because of lack of clarity around the salary additions to the budget. 

That brings us to this $6M question.  In FY24, the previous administration's stated intention was to put the grant funded positions - all that provide direct student support - into the general fund. However, in November the new administration found some discrepancies throughout the budget and came to the School Committee asking for a net transfer of $3.4M into salaries from accounts like utilities, tuitions and existing revolving accounts. With new eyes on the budget, Ms. Wong and Mr. Gillis updated the salary line from $65.3 million to its actual sum of $68.7 million. Thus, what appears to be a 9% increase from the original FY24 to FY25 is really a 3.7% increase after these transfers.  

The FY25 budget also has a net reduction of 11.5 positions. Bottom line: our fiscal cliff was and will continue to be real but it has been softened by our ability to draw down from our revolving accounts and from the way we spread out our Covid monies. Next year, for FY26 we will not have the funds that we used to cover the budget this year, thus the understanding by everyone involved that we need to begin to prepare now for how we will fund the schools in FY26 and beyond.

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