By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER – Superintendent Kevin Hutchinson has presented a budget of almost $40 million to the School Committee.
Hutchinson said the schools need to spend $39,991,881 during the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, to keep the same services provided by the spending plan that was approved for the current period. The proposed budget exceeds the current fiscal year’s spending by 4.46 percent.
Town Manager Andrew Maylor has indicated he will recommend $39,720,523 for education spending, a 3.75 percent increase, Hutchinson said. Although there’s a $271,358 difference between the superintendent’s level-services budget and what the town manager is recommending, North Andover officials have a history of working out financial differences before the annual Town Meeting.
Last year, for example, the School Committee and Maylor were slightly less than $100,000 apart on spending. A few weeks before the June 12 Town Meeting, however, the gap was closed thanks to a larger-than-expected transfusion of state aid.
Retaining the same level of services, Hutchinson said, means not having more than 29 students in any class; maintaining class sizes of 18 to 22 students in kindergarten through second grade; and keeping the number of students in third- through fifth-grade classes between 23 and 25.
Hutchinson said he and his staff have saved $125,263 in heating and electricity costs by adopting energy-saving measures. School Business Administrator said the schools have saved $790,000 by having employees pay 25 percent of their health insurance premiums.
Hutchinson Thursday night also presented a list of “identified needs” – positions that the schools need but are not included in his proposed budget. They include:
- A special education teacher for North Andover Middle School who specializes in autism.
- A special education teacher for the middle school specializing in language development.
- A speech pathologist for preschoolers.
- A school psychologist for the elementary schools.
- A director of communications and development.
- An information technology services coordinator.
- Assistant principals for Sargent and Franklin schools.
The numbers of students attending Sargent and Franklin increased substantially during the last few years, the superintendent said.
The budget he is recommending “maintains but does not improve” learning in the North Andover public schools, he said. The School Committee will hold a public hearing on the budget Feb. 7.
The board is scheduled to act on the budget Feb. 13. The Finance Committee will then review school spending and make recommendations to Town Meeting.
The May 21 annual Town Meeting will have the final word on how much money will be spent on the schools as well as other town services.