The Mashpee School Committee voted Wednesday, January 22, to approve the Fiscal Year 2021 budget. The budget was approved by a 4-1 vote, with the sole “no” vote coming from committee secretary Don Meyers.
The approved budget, at $22,778,314, represents a 2.7 percent increase from this year’s allocation. With School Choice funding of $538,865, the district’s budget will total $23,317,179.
Earlier in the meeting, Mr. Meyers made a motion to bump the School Choice funding from $538,865 to $568,865, a $30,000 increase.
Mr. Meyers said this increase would provide funding for two types of grants, one for teachers, totaling $25,000, and another for student-led projects, totaling $5,000.
“I would suggest that we make a commitment to continue [the grant programs] into FY 21,” Mr. Meyers said.
School committee chairman Geoffrey Gorman said the committee could wait until the end of the current fiscal year and then reallocate remaining funds, with priority given to the grant programs.
“I would like to see a commitment [to funding the grants] up front, so that we know going into the year that that [funding] will be there,” Mr. Meyers said. “That will give the students and the teachers an opportunity to know up front that that will be available again next year.”
“I don’t like that this number is going to move,” committee vice chairwoman Nicole Bartlett said, referring to the $538,865 of School Choice funding allocated to offset the district’s operating budget. “I was just saying to Paul [Funk, the district’s business manager] that I would like it if this number on the School Choice funds is static. It shows some plan.”
“My only concern,” Mr. Gorman said, “is that at some point we’re going to have to prioritize things and if we start throwing stuff into the budget like this that could potentially be priority number five instead of priority number one, two and three, for School Choice spending; we’re kind of putting ourselves into a corner.
“We’re kind of losing our flexibility to spend this money how we want to, or how we need to. Right now we’re lucky we have 16 extra kids, but it might not be like that in 2021.”
Mr. Gorman said a “no” vote would not influence further discussion of how to fund these grants at future school committee meetings, but only deny Mr. Meyers’ specific motion.
Mr. Meyers’s motion was voted down.
In turn, Mr. Meyers voted against approving the proposed level-service budget for Fiscal Year 2021.
The budget must now be approved at the May Annual May Town Meeting.
In other action, the committee gave Mr. Funk permission to use excess funds from the FY 2020 budget to pay for Advanced Placement exam registration fees.
According to school committee documents, 138 students will take at least one AP exam this year. Some students take more than one exam per year. The district will order 211 exams at a total cost of $18,151.