The School Committee approved a nearly $119 million budget for the 2022-23 school year at its meeting on Thursday, March 24.
The school budget is about $9.7 million over the current school year’s budget, with the influx in new funds fueled by changes in the state Chapter 70 funding formula that provides more funding for school districts in need.
The budget proposes 49 new positions in the general fund, many in the ELL and special education programs, in the district’s elementary schools. These positions are in addition to the 68 positions the district added as a result of federal Covid relief funding that runs through 2024.
“This budget aligns with our vision outlined in our strategic plan, and it also provides the financial resources to execute our strategy to meet our goals and our vision, which is that Chelsea Public Schools is a gateway system that welcomes and educates all students, “ said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Almi Abeyta.
Abeyta said the budget was created after a careful analysis of stakeholder input and achievement data.
“This budget supports the continued restoration of resources to support teaching and learning and the rebuilding of an improved and equitable school system,” said Abeyta. “We have done our best to ensure that we focus on our students who have the highest needs, to close the achievement and opportunity gaps, and to increase wages for staff. I’m confident that this budget reflects what we heard from multiple stakeholders and aligns to our strategies with the ultimate goal that our students are biliterate, digitally literate, and college and career ready.”
Proposed staff additions at the Early Learning Center include one new special education inclusion teacher and six special education paraprofessionals.
Two new school counselors are proposed for the four elementary schools, with each new position split between two schools.
At the Berkowitz Elementary a new ELL teacher and a math specialist are in the budget, while at the Hooks Elementary, there is a new reading specialist.
At the Kelly Elementary, the budget calls for three new ELL teachers, and at the Sokolowski Elementary, there is a new reading specialist.
New positions proposed for the Browne Middle School include a world language teacher, two ELL teachers, and one reading specialist teacher.
At the Clarke Avenue Middle School, proposed additions include an ELL teacher and a reading specialist, and at the Wright Academy Middle School the new positions include a special education inclusion teacher, a math specialist, and a paraprofessional at the library.
In other business at last week’s meeting, the School Committee voted to forgo School Choice for the coming school year.
“What we are saying is that we would not accept students from out of district, and we will only accept students who live here in Chelsea and all of our seats will be for students in the Chelsea Public Schools,” said Abeyta.