Inflation leads to an increase in Westborough School’s budget
WESTBOROUGH – Over the next few weeks Westborough Public Schools will be working on the budget for the 2024 financial year.
Due to inflation, everything is going to cost more – from equipment maintenance to out-of-district special education costs – and has become a primary factor.
The school department reviews every budget line and request, but there will likely be an increase in spending.
The department is currently in contract negotiations with several unions, including teachers. There are also cost increases for transport, electricity and heating.
The building and land department, which had been funded at the level of the past two years, is also experiencing price increases. Superintendent Amber Bock said the department recently paid $42,000 to replace a sump pump and septic system at Mill Pond Elementary School.
“It costs more for everything,” Bock said November 9.
For example, garbage removal is budgeted for an increase from $26,500 in fiscal year 2023 to $58,500 in the proposed budget.
“He had been cut for two years, but now he’s coming back to bite us,” Bock said.
In addition to the operating budget, the capital budget for 2024 will include the roofing projects for Hastings and Mill Pond.
The budget “will continue to evolve,” said finance and administration director David Gordon.
A big concern for the school department comes from out-of-district costs for special education. A week after the city assembly approved approximately $930,000 to fund those costs for fiscal year 2023, the operational services division of the state executive office for administration and finance authorized a 14% increase. tuition fees for private special education schools for fiscal year 2024.
“It’s concerning,” Bock said.
The increase is attributed to a cost-of-living adjustment, as well as an attempt to retain staff in schools.
“There’s nothing we can do about it,” Gordon said.
Gordon presented two budgeting scenarios to the school committee regarding additional out-of-district costs. If the increase is applied to the entire student services budget, the additional cost could amount to $463,577. If applied to out-of-district costs only, it could be $381,996.
“Impact is important,” Gordon said.
Bock said she hopes the state circuit breaker will help cover some of the additional costs.
The school committee will vote on the budget on December 14.