School Department Able to Replace Some Budget Cuts With State Budget

The School Department will be able to replace a number of positions and items cut from the original 2019-2020 budget due to an influx of state monies from the final State Budget.

Last Thursday night, the School Committee approved an additional $1.3 million in state Chapter 70 appropriations.

That money will be used to add one attendance officer and a half-time special education clerk in the special education department, increase salary contingencies and health insurance funds across the district, add one social communications teacher and two paraprofessionals and increase funding for substitutes at the Early Learning Center and the elementary schools, add a special education inclusion teachers at the Clarke and Browne middle schools, and correct funding for athletic coaches and increase funding for substitutes at the high school, among other items.

The City Council will now have to approve the additional funding.

“Each year, the Governor’s proposed budget numbers are used by CPS as the foundation for the upcoming year’s budget,” stated Supt. Mary Bourque. 

When the state budget is finally adopted after deliberations by the House and Senate and considered by the governor, the budget allocations by school district typically change.

The $1.3 million is separate and apart from any changes to the “pothole” funding which could be finalized by the state in the next several weeks, according to Bourque.

Last year, the Chelsea schools received just under $300,000 in the pothole funding.

“I think it will be something in the same range this year,” said Bourque.

As the schools await the additional funding, Bourque said it’s important for parents and teachers to continue to advocate for a change in the way the state determines the foundational school budget for districts such as Chelsea. Bourque noted that Chelsea’s special education program and benefits are underfunded by approximately $17 million.

“The state legislature is working on a bill to fix the foundation budget,” said Bourque. “We want to make sure it is something we can live with for the next 25 years. We need the City Council to continue to advocate alongside us.”

•In other School Committee business, Bourque updated the board on the superintendent transition plan.

Superintendent-elect Almi Abeyta will be constantly shadowing Bourque through Dec. 1. On Dec. 1, Bourque will take a step back and Abeyta will begin making school district decisions.

Bourque’s last day is Dec. 31, and Jan. 1, 2020 will be Abeyta’s first official day as superintendent.

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