March Message from the Superintendent
Wow – the months of the ‘16-‘17 school year are moving along quickly and the past couple of months have been no exception! March finds the School Committee and the Administration focused on budgeting for the ‘17-‘18 school year.
As a school district, we are held responsible for taking care of our community’s most important assets – its children and its money. The District’s goal is to manage resources wisely in order to deliver a world class education for SEBRSD students.
The Administration started having discussions about District needs early last fall and have now moved on to public meetings with the School Committee before the final budget is presented to the towns. Because we are currently in the budget process and the School Committee is now reviewing the FY ’18 budget proposal, I want the Community to know how our school district is funded and how we develop our funding priorities.
In every state, education funding comes from a combination of federal, state, and local sources. The federal government funding typically provides less than 10% of funding sources for education. State and local funds must account for the remainder.
Relative to state government funding, the annual Massachusetts state budget is passed by the Legislature and the Governor. The process begins when the Governor releases a proposed budget at the start of the calendar year. The Legislature then reviews the proposed budget and makes changes based on its priorities. In May the Governor proposes budget revisions based on new information about state revenues. In June, the Legislature votes on the budget and sends it to the Governor for his signature. The Governor can reduce specific spending items before approving the final budget and the state budget directs how education funds are to be spent.
To be clear about local government funding, SEBRSD is a “community-funded” district funded by taxes. Rates and receipts vary from year-to-year according to both the tax rate and the assessed value of homes and commercial properties being taxed. At the local level, the SEBRSD budget is proposed by Administration, reviewed and revised jointly, and then passed by a School Committee vote. As a regional district, SEBRSD must also have its budget approved by the state Financial Overseer. The final approval is sought by both towns at the annual town meetings. As you can see, there are multiple levels of scrutiny to ensure that the budget contains the proposed programing needed to provide a world-class education for students and also multiple levels of scrutiny to balance operating costs with the community’s ability to support them.
While the local budget is based on projections of both state and federal funding, the School Committee must present the budget and get it approved by May. This means that it is entirely possible for the state to revise budget numbers in June resulting in a shortfall of program money to the District.
While the budget may seem complicated with numerous intricacies, one thing remains simple: it is up to local taxpayers to determine what they are willing to support at Town Meeting to provide our students with what is needed for their future success.
This District is poised for enhancing existing programs and developing new high quality programs aimed at preparing our students for the challenges of a new century. The Administration has proposed what is needed to arm our students with the academic, social-emotional, and technological skills necessary for college and career.
We invite staff, students, parents and the entire community to attend Budget Workshops in coming weeks to support the advances we have made to date as well as advocate for funding of future innovation and growth.
~ Tracy Crowe