School Budget Still Faces Many Unknowns, Superintendent Says
A number of factors have yet to be determined for the FY13 School Budget
Easton Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael A. Green had very little new news concerning the school’s budget at the March 1 Easton School Committee meeting.
“We still have a number of factors not yet decided that will directly impact our ability to close or not close our budget gap,” Green said.
One of those factors will be having to deal with the expiring contracts of the school unions. The contracts of all six unions are set to expire either at the end of the school year or in August. Negotiations with the teacher's union for a new agreement to take effect in September are expected to begin later this month.
Despite the uncertainties, Green is optimistic that the budget will begin to take shape soon.
“At this point in time there are still a lot of unanswered questions. There’s still a lot of unknowns but as we move through the process over the next few weeks those answers will become more clear and we’ll be able to more forward with our budget process,” he said.
A budget subcommittee meeting to discuss the issue is planned in the next few weeks.
In addition to the budget issue, Green also spoke of the potential of increasing special education services. The school has been looking to see which special education programs should brought back into the district.
“Its the right thing to do and we’re glad to have our youngsters here,” he said.
The committee voted 5-0 to approve an Oliver Ames High School student trip in April 2013 that would include stops in Venice, Vienna, and Prague. The early approval should help interested students plan ahead of time for the trip and start paying for the trip earlier.
“I’m just trying to plan well in advance because these trips....they’re expensive. The companies give the students a little bit of an advantage for signing up by April 1st,” Oliver Ames history teacher and trip organizer Eveline Johnson said.
With a vote of 5-0 the school committee decided to renew their contract with Lucini Bus Lines. After receiving the interest of eight bus lines and four bids, the school committee decided to stick with Lucini Bus Lines for $839,340 for a three year contract.
Oliver Ames’ concussion policy was also approved 5-0. The policy requires all new students to take the impact test prior to participating in contact sports. All students would only have to take it when they initially start participating in the sport.
“The Easton public schools takes the safety of its student athletes very seriously,” Director of School System Operations David Twombly said “The underlying philosophy is when it doubt, sit them out.”
The new policy looks to keep the school and the athletic department aware of any potential concussions to any OA student-athlete. The athletic department will be responsible with sharing any information with the coaches’, school nurse, and school doctor on any student-athlete who had a previous concussion.
The retirement of three members of the Easton school district was approved 5-0. Easton public school psychologist Laurel Silverman, consumer science teacher Mary Jo McLaughlin, and first grade teacher Sherry Alford will all retire at the end of the school year. McLaughlin appeared in front of the school committee to thank them for their support.
“I wanted you to know how much I appreciate your support,” McLaughlin said. “Not only for my department but for educators throughout Easton.”