Mashpee Public Schools Superintendent Patricia M. DeBoer presented the recommended Fiscal Year 2023 budget to the Mashpee School Committee during its most recent meeting last Wednesday, January 5.
The committee will vote on the budget during its next meeting on Wednesday. If approved, it will be sent to Town Manager Rodney C. Collins the next day.
The recommended budget is a $721,159, or a 3.01 percent, increase over FY22 at $24,657,459. The district will be offsetting that total budget with School Choice funds of $654,198 so that the Town of Mashpee’s appropriated budget will be $24,003,261, Ms. DeBoer said. Technology requests going before the Capital Improvement Program Committee, if approved, will lower this further.
“We have 201,000 in technology capital requests that will go before the capital improvement committee, and it is currently sitting in our operating budget but will be pulled out if that funding is approved through capital,” Ms. DeBoer said.
The capital improvement request includes $45,000 in Chromebook leases, $25,000 in interactive board systems, $25,400 in iPad replacements and $105,600 for the Pilot X Interactive Podium, Ms. DeBoer said. An additional $25,000 in food service and kitchen equipment updates have been ongoing for several years to replace dated school kitchen appliances.
Anticipating the capital improvement program committee’s approval, the total FY23 budget would be $23,802,261, which is a 2.16 percent increase over FY22.
“Obviously, the bulk of our Mashpee Public Schools budget, generally around 80 percent, 81 percent range, is personnel,” Ms. DeBoer said.
The total personnel budget for FY23 is $19,262,834, Ms. DeBoer said, a 1.76 percent increase over last year’s personnel budget. This represents 138 full time teaching positions across the district.
The personnel budget includes a 5.06 percent increase at Mashpee Middle-High School for the addition of science teacher for the new computer science and health services programs. Put on hold due to the pandemic, Ms. DeBoer said, a grant was obtained to provide students with the materials necessary to gain some industry licensure for the healthcare field after graduating from the high school. Health affiliates across the Cape are also supporting the program, which will allow for evening programming for local firefighters or medical personnel, Ms. DeBoer said.
Curriculum and technology will see a 22.24 percent increase including an English language education teacher due to the rise in English learners in the district, Ms. DeBoer said. This increase also includes the $201,000 for technology that will hopefully be funded by the capital improvement committee, Ms. DeBoer said.
The remaining 20 percent of the budget is operational expenses, Ms. DeBoer said. The FY23 operational budget will see increase at the Quashnet Elementary School for planned purchases of classroom supplies. The high school’s increase reflects the addition of the health services pathway and expenses related to outdoor graduation. Transportation will also increase due to rising driver wages, replacing a bus and special education transportation.
The middle-high school will see a decrease due to offset textbook replacement, Ms. DeBoer said.
The total grants in FY23 are comparatively lower than the previous year’s due to a change in COVID-19 funding. This fiscal year grant funding will remain at the same level as FY20 or will decrease, Ms. DeBoer said.
“FY 2021 and FY 2022 includes one-time grant funding for COVID-19 of $510,142 and $1,628,023, respectively,” Ms. DeBoer said.
In terms of district enrollment, Ms. DeBoer said, the district is expecting a stable student population, with a projected 1,485 students in FY23.
“We continue to see movement of families who have a hard time finding a place to live in Mashpee, and we really do hope that as a community we are able to problem-solve around that because the wealth of a community to me is measured by the families and children that are a part of it, and we hope that our families are able to stay in Mashpee,” Ms. DeBoer said.
In developing the budget, Ms. DeBoer said her team’s focus is on making sure it supports the district’s newly developed plan for success. The four-year strategic plan was developed with a large group of stakeholders including school personnel, community members and students.
The process for creating the FY23 budget began last spring and was built from almost a zero point, Ms. DeBoer said. The process begins through conversations among teachers and principals that are then reviewed and turned into individual school budgets. The individual plans are then merged and worked into a district-wide budget with district leadership and the finance committee, Ms. DeBoer said.
“We do our very best to project though this process, but there are and always remain unknowns, particularly in a school district’s budget,” Ms. DeBoer said.
In starting the process for any fiscal year, the school committee predetermines guidelines to abide by in determining the schools’ budget, Ms. DeBoer said. The fiscal responsibilities include sufficient operating and capital funds to address year two of Mashpee’s plan for success implementation, meeting increasing demand for technology, updating curriculum where necessary and addressing the social/emotional needs of students through staffing and programming. Guidelines also include maintaining a $250,000 floor in the School Choice program funds, Ms. DeBoer said.
Maintaining school facilities falls under the Mashpee Department of Public Works, and therefore control of the school operating budget does not fall under the school department, including ongoing protocols to maintain a safe and healthy environment, Ms. DeBoer said.