EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 7, 2013

Schools exceeded town manager budget allocation

ANDOVER — Next year’s budget for Andover’s school system is anywhere from $850,516 to $2.2 million in deficit from the town manager’s appropriation, with officials saying any further reductions spark compliance and strategic planning impacts.

Superintendent Marinel McGrath presented her budget recommendation for the coming fiscal year to the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee last night. The request goes forward in a two-fold fashion: one budget reflecting the necessary cost increases to sustain “level services” compared to last year and not fall into legal compliance issues, and another to also add some “modest investments” to move the district forward.

THE NUMBERS, AT A GLANCE

Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski has allocated the department a 3.32 percent increase over its budget from last year, bringing it up to $68 million.

LEVEL SERVICES: McGrath’s “Level Service Budget” asks for $69.4 million, which includes the compliance-driven hiring of the equivalent of 21.97 full-time staff spread throughout the district.

These hires hit a number of areas, including special education driven hires at every school and English as a Second Language program hires. To meet the needs of the student community, these hires are required to keep the district in compliance, McGrath said. Overall, this budget reflects a 5.37 percent increase over last year.

STRATEGIC PLAN: Her “Strategic Plan Budget” asks for $70.3 million, which includes the 21.97 hires and the equivalent of 13.05 full-time staff to satisfy new program needs, bringing the total number of hires to approximately 35.02.

The additional requests involve expanding the district’s middle school music program and hiring or expanding the past hires of three different program advisers. Overall, this budget reflects a 6.7 percent increase.

The department also requests a disputed source of revenue originating from an unexpected state appropriation last year worth $500,000 originally earmarked for education, which could lower the cost of either budget proposal if given to the schools this year.

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