EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 18, 2013

Committee begins work on town's school budget

NORTH ANDOVER — The annual building of the budget has begun for the North Andover schools.

The principals presented various “identified needs:” Items they said are necessary to carry out their mission but are not — as of yet, anyway — included in the budget presented by Superintendent Kevin Hutchinson.

Coincidentally, the School Committee also heard state Reps. James Lyons, R-Andover, and Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, as well as state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, talk about the push they’re making for more aid to cities and towns.

Last week, Hutchinson presented a spending plan totaling $39,991,881 for the fiscal year that will begin July 1. That plan, 4.46 percent higher than the budget for the current fiscal year, will provide students the same services they are now receiving, he said.

School Committee Chairwoman Laurie Burzlaff said that amount will enable the schools to “get by,” but it won’t bring about improvements to local education.

Town Manager Andrew Maylor has recommended a school budget of $39,720,523, an increase of 3.75 percent. Maylor supports a 3.75 percent increase for all town departments.

Maylor’s and Hutchinson’s numbers are now $271,358 apart. During the past few years, the manager, selectmen and School Committee have come to agreement on the budget before the annual Town Meeting.

School Business Administrator James Mealey said the next step in the process will be a “prioritized list of reductions,” which Hutchinson will probably present to the School Committee before the end of the month.

Mealey noted the committee has the power to vote to include in the budget any of the needs identified by the principals — and to eliminate other items that members deem less necessary.

Greg Landry, principal of Atkinson School, said a large number of his students have special needs and require extra help. His suggestion? Extend the school day for children who require more time to learn.

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