EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

July 6, 2013

Superintendent to present deficit reduction plan

NORTH ANDOVER — Superintendent Kevin Hutchinson said he will present a recommendation on how to erase the $650,000 budget deficit at Tuesday night’s School Committee.

The shortfall resulted from higher than expected special education tuition costs, Hutchinson told the School Committee on June 20. School Business Administrator James Mealey said special education costs are very difficult to predict.

Six teachers received layoff notices as a result of the deficit, which was not discovered until after the May 21 annual Town Meeting. State law requires that teachers who are in danger of losing their jobs receive notice of this by June 15.

The $150,000 special education contingency fund, approved by Town Meeting, could be used to save some of the teachers’ jobs, Hutchinson said at the June 20 meeting. The reductions that could be made to erase the shortfall, he said, include $414,721 in teacher positions, $134,129 in librarian positions and $100,000 in tutors.

Hutchinson said yesterday it’s too soon to say whether an increase in aid from the state would help the schools close the budget gap. He noted Gov. Deval Patrick has yet to sign the budget for this fiscal year.

Town Manager Andrew Maylor, who allowed a 4.12 percent increase in school spending for the fiscal year that began Monday, is on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment.

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