EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 11, 2013

City schools come up $750K short

Special education costs trigger budget crunch


Scully said he has been aware of the problem for several months. In response, the district stopped hiring new workers in January and stopped purchasing new supplies two months ago, he said.

Mayor James Fiorentini, also the School Committee chairman, said he has been told to expect a shortfall in the $750,000 range. The city is legally obligated to cover any school budget shortfalls at the end of the fiscal year, the mayor said.

“Why don’t we have a plan to solve this here tonight?” Fiorentini asked Scully at last week’s school board meeting. “This is unacceptable not to have a plan.”

Several School Committee joined the mayor in pressing Scully for an immediate solution.

“I don’t want us to have to call an emergency meeting with five days left in the fiscal year and have to go to the mayor asking for the city to bail us out,” Committee member Scott Wood said.

“I’d like to see an immediate cost-cutting plan,” Committee President Paul Magliocchetti said

Yesterday, Scully said he still was unsure what the final shortfall might be. He said he planned to have “some definitive numbers” for the School Committee by the end of the week.

“It’s not poor planning to get hit with a $350,000 bill for educating one student for six months,” Scully said. “The state says we have to pay and the state tells us what we have to pay. We have no choice.”

Committee members said they will look to the city’s legislative delegation for help.

“We need to talk to our legislators about special education students moving here and bankrupting us,” Committee member Joe Bevilacqua said.

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