Hadley superintended eyes 3 percent school budget increase
HADLEY — Interim schools Superintendent Donna Moyer’s proposed fiscal 2014 spending plan, presented Wednesday to the School Committee, is nearly $6.64 million, about $200,000 or 3 percent higher than the budget for the current year.
Moyer said she anticipates that approximately 89 percent of the budget would need to come from Hadley budget allocations, while the remainder would be funded by grants and school choice funds. In addition, both the state and Medicaid, which provides some funds for special education, are expected to provide funding to the town for education. In total, the interim superintendent’s office expects that the cost to the town would be slightly over $4.9 million.
Hadley has unusually low per-pupil costs, which have remained relatively steady since 2006 despite increases in costs across the state. The average per-pupil cost for the state was $13,361 in 2011, while the per-pupil cost in Hadley was $9,770 in the same year.
The interim superintendent also made several requests for funds beyond the regular operating costs of the district, including money for administrative improvements, on-site professional development, a part-time math coach for the elementary school and a vacant teacher position in case an additional teacher is necessary. These additional requests would cost nearly $136,000 on top of the regular budget request.
The committee was generally supportive of the requests. “I certainly don’t see anything frivolous in here,” said member Molly Keegan.
According to Moyer, Hadley schools have been overdependent on school choice funds — which the school receives when students from other districts opt to attend Hadley schools — in past years, spending more than the district is receiving and dipping into accumulated surpluses from prior school years. She said that she could not in good conscience recommend spending more school choice money than the district takes in next year.
Hadley has seen a decline in the net number of students in the schools through the school choice program over the past five years. The number of students from other districts in Hadley schools has remained between 76 and 79 each year. However, over the same period, greater numbers of Hadley residents have opted to attend schools in other districts — increasing from 31 students in the 2008-09 school year to an estimated 53 students this year.
In other business, the committee chose members for the Superintendent Screening Committee, and outlined a hiring plan that calls for selecting a new permanent superintendent by November. Moyer will hold the position of interim superintendent until June 2014. The members of the screening committee are Denise Devine, John Sylvestro, Susan Mooring, Noel Kurtz, Heather Klesch and Mark Acton.