WAKEFIELD - After the School Department presented its proposed FY’09 budget to the Board of Selectmen last night, at least two selectmen challenged school officials to explain how they planned to fund the $28,123,670 budget without asking for a Prop 2 1/2 override.
“There is no way to fund this budget without an override,” Selectman Albert Turco admonished school officials.
Superintendent Joan Landers, School Committee Chairman Christopher Callanan and Assistant Superintendent for Personnel and Finance Peter DeRoeve presented the budget. An overflow crowd of Wakefield teachers also packed the first-floor Town Hall meeting room to hear last night's presentation.
Turco explained that the School Department controls roughly 65 percent of the town's budget, with about 35 percent under the selectmen's control. Turco pointed out that under the Town Administrator's FY’09 forecast, the town's anticipated budget is more than $1 million out of balance.
“We can't balance our budget,” Turco said, “unless we make a cut, town-wide, of a million dollars.” In an effort to reach that target, Turco said, the selectmen intended to cut an aggregate 2 percent out of the operating budgets that they control.
Whatever the budget, I hope it can provide Wakefield's kids with the good education they deserve.
Stressing that no final decisions have been made, Landers said that if forced to level fund the School Department budget, the results could include: The loss of 25 positions; increased class size across all grades; increased user fees for sports and possible reduction of extracurricular activities; loss of course offerings; increased tuition for all-day kindergarten; increased bus fees and consolidation of bus routes; and loss of technology usage due to lack of lack of computers and staff training.