Voc Ed Transportation Grounded

Written by Administrator
 | Sunday, 27 January 2008 19:51
Students enrolled in out-of-district vocational programs will have to find another way to get to school next year after that expense was eliminated from the FY05 budget. Students enrolled in out-of-district vocational programs will have to find another way to get to school next year after that expense was eliminated from the FY05 budget.

Superintendent Eileen Williams said that while the school department will continue to cover tuition for these students, it is no longer required by law to cover transportation, which costs an average of $6,000 per student or $73,520.

Committee member John Heinstadt made an amendment to reinstate these funds for the 14 students affected, in part because Duxbury does not have vocational programs for them to take advantage of and also because these students have already started their programs.

“We have an obligation, I think, to see them finish,” he said.

Business Manger Mickey McGonagle told school committee members that Duxbury is working with the three schools that receive town students ñ South Shore Vo-Tech, Norfolk County Agricultural and Silver Lake Regional ñ on alternate transportation options.  These options include expanding their pick-up zones and even picking up Duxbury youth in neighboring towns.

Heinstadt’s motion to reinstate the funds failed, 4-1, with his the only vote in favor.

Committee member John Magnarelli targeted the schools’ supplies budget as one place to save some money, recognizing that money was budgeted for things that were never replaced or fixed in previous years and was a controllable area versus salaries.

Magnarelli made a motion to cut the supplies budget by approximately $116,000, despite warnings from Williams and McGonagle that such an action would affect programs if supplies did run out and could not be replaced.  McGonagle, for example, said such a move could eliminate wax for custodians to clean floors and possibly toilet paper for students.

Williams disagreed with Magnarelli’s use of a formula to estimate how much to cut, but Heinstadt pointed out that she and the school department were also using a formula to decide what areas to increase.

“This is a controllable expense,” said Magnarelli, who made a second motion to cut the supplies budget by $63,000.  “We need to look at what we can control.  We can’t touch salariesÖbut supplies, equipment, rental and other areas ñ these are controllable areas.”

Magnarelli also voiced his disapproval with the proposed budget not adequately looking at cutting things at the base level first and then implementing cutbacks and fees.

Both Magnarelli’s motions regarding the supply budget failed; 5-0 for reducing by $116,000 and 3-2 for reducing by $63,000.

As Wednesday’s meeting passed the midnight hour into Thursday morning and amendments to re-balance the budget were quickly being recommended, Magnarelli got his wish to reduce the supply budget by $68,192.  This was the final amendment needed to reach the $2.9 million mark set by the town after previous amendments by committee members created a $140,000 deficit.

Other reduced expenses included using leftover funds from this year’s budget to buy new textbooks, a request that Williams initially set at $86,280, and a $50,000 reduction in out-of-district tuition for special education placements.  Williams said that despite this reduction, no child will be denied needed or mandated services.

With the final budget balanced, Magnarelli was the lone dissenting vote to approve the budget, which passed 4-1.

After the meeting, he said there were a few reasons for his nay vote on the final product.

“The base of the budget has to be reduced,” he said.  “We didn’t look enough at reducing some of the stuff we should reduce, but instead balanced it on the backs of fees and next year it will be the same thing, but only worse.  With supplies, for example, we should have been going into [all] those accountsÖthat’s four million dollars of controllable costs that we should have been controlling better and keeping that base down.”