Dear Ashland School Committee and the Ashland Community,
I am pleased to present you with an Executive Summary of the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY’22) Superintendent’s Recommended Operating Budget. It is designed to provide you with a broad view of the budget, yet you will find some specific and detailed explanations of certain requests. I hope it is clear and concise; and allows you to fully understand the recommended budget.
The development of the FY’22 budget was certainly interesting this year due to COVID-19, a recession, and the hiring of a new director of finance and operations. I am quite pleased with how the budget has come out, and our process while interesting, did not skip a beat. I would like to thank all of the administrators and especially Director of Finance and Operations Chris Mathieu for the time and effort needed to pull together this document and all supporting documents.
The development of the FY’22 (the 2021-22 School Year) budget began in earnest in November with principals, directors and the entire administrative team conducting a detailed review of staffing, enrollment projections (these numbers are misleading due to COVID-19 and families keeping students’ home), needs of individual schools and each budgetary line item. Throughout the process, our administrative team was tasked with providing high level and appropriate services for our students, while keeping our budget tight as we recognize the recession and future costs, such as the newly appropriated Mindess School.
Our administrative team participated in a budgeting workshop with the School Committee on February 8, 2021 to discuss District priorities to ensure the budget aligns with our community’s values and our Blueprint for Continuous Student Improvement (See Appendix 2).
The budget we are presenting to the community calls for an increase of about 3.78% or $1.3 million dollars over the FY’21 budget. This increase is in alignment with the request and agreements between the school system and our general government. While the district was able to utilize special funding from federal and state grants due to COVID-19, these funds were specified for COVID related spending and will most likely not be available in the future. The district has strategically utilized these funds to invest in better air filtration systems, air purification systems for each classroom, personal protective equipment for faculty and staff, in addition to investing in high quality disinfection products. COVID-19 has changed the way we teach and learn, and future budgets will need to reflect this change.
We do not anticipate a large increase in Chapter 70 funding from the state, due to enrollment becoming stagnant, thus we will rely on one-time funds like school choice and circuit breaker to invest in specialized programming to control special education out-of-district costs, support our youngest students who struggle with literacy and math, and meet State mandates for educating our English Language Learner population. (See Appendix 3).
Getting back to a sense of normalcy in our everyday teaching is desired by us all. There will inevitably be learning gaps created by COVID-19, but I promise we will close these gaps in an efficient and effective manner. It may take some time, but we are all dedicated to this important responsibility.
Be well,James E. Adams, Superintendent of Schools