Staffing Cuts At Bourne Schools Will Bump Up Class Sizes

Steven LamarcheENTERPRISE FILE PHOTO - Steven Lamarche

The Bourne School Committee was presented with an austere budget last night. Programs were on the chopping block and personnel was once again slated to be cut.

“We have done some serious cutting and reallocating over the last five years and we may have reached our limit this time,” superintendent Steven M. Lamarche said as he presented a $20.2 million budget.

Mr. Lamarche was presenting this, his 20th draft of the budget, to a well attended public hearing at the Bourne High School auditorium.

The administration has been working over the last few weeks to hold down spending to the level town manager Thomas M. Guerino asked.

The proposed budget includes cutting two-and-a-half more staff members. The hope for this year was to recover some of the personnel cut last year. Instead, students and teachers may see an increase in class size at the elementary level to more than 20 students in a classroom because of these further cuts, he said.

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“I am just sad about this,” committee member Catherine P. Walton said. “I am a member of the budget subcommittee and have been a part of this process but I am still saddened by what the town is asking us to do,” she said after thanking Mr. Lamarche for his thoughtful presentation of the difficult topic.

Despite significant cost-saving measures, like saving $150,000 in fuel costs by converting school heating systems from oil to gas, the school system is looking at increased costs of $559,993 in contractual obligations. In addition, revenue will slip even further with the loss of some federal entitlement grants that have supplied almost $1.2 million since 2011.

Mr. Lamarche commented earlier in the evening, “I have found that the Bourne school community has the capacity to unite around a common cause and find a shared understanding on matters of concern to all, when well informed. With certainty, this is a time when we must collectively use this remarkable capability and energetically and urgently address the fiscal perplexities and uncertainties we face today and in our immediate future.”

Chairman Matthew B. Stuck reminded everyone that this budget would go before the selectmen next Tuesday evening for further discussion and that the budget process would be ongoing until a final draft is given to Town Meeting voters in May.

During the public comment portion of the evening, not many audience members took the opportunity to ask questions.

Ms. Walton seemed compelled to comment. “Enough is enough. We need more money for our schools. This is not okay. Everybody should come to every meeting. We can’t do this alone. We have to do this together,” Ms. Walton said.

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