School Budget cuts would mean layoffs and fewer, larger classes

The Belmont School Committee met Tuesday evening to discuss budget options for FY 2010 and possible cuts to school programs in the event that the town does not pass an operational override to patch a structural deficit in the town’s budget and make up for lost local aid from the state.

First the good news: The town has finally completed federally mandated safety changes to the drain at the High School’s Higginbottom pool, which is open again for public use.

In other good news, generous parents have donated $10,000 to the Wellington School for use towards the purchase of technology.

Now for everything else:

School Committee kicked off Tuesday’s meeting with a discussion of the decision by  Butler Elementary principal Bruce McDonald to leave his position. The School Committee will be meeting with the faculty and parents to gauge their response and start talking about a replacement.

Much of the rest of the meeting was devoted to a discussion of possible cuts to school programs for FY 2010. For parents interested in voicing concerns about the budget, there will be a public forum to discuss the school budget on February 4th in the Chenery Auditorium. Residents and, especially, Town Meeting members are especially invited to attend.

The School Committee made clear that, on the town’s current fiscal course, deep cuts to school programs will be inevitable in FY 2010.  Some of the worst case scenarios include:

  • Elimination of elective courses at the High School level (creative writing and public speaking were mentioned)
  • Elimination of AP courses (such as Latin) at the High School
  • The elimination of JV sports
  • The elimination of elementary science education
  • Steep cuts across the board in spending for supplies and book purchases
  • Curtailing or loss of laboratory science courses
  • Steep increase in use fees for all sports

Stand for Children: supporting Belmont’s schools from the grassroots

Hi, it’s Sara, and this is my first post for BloggingBelmont. I live in Belmont and have a little boy who will head to Winn Brook this fall. As a parent and an educator I am very interested in all things education- which is where I’m headed with this post.

Going into 2009 Belmont’s schools are facing a tough budget crunch, and this is a great time for Belmont parents and supporters of the schools to get involved. I am part of an organization called Stand for Children (www.stand.org), a community based advocacy group that is committed to maintaining and improving programs for children by securing support from local and state leaders.

Stand for Children is in the early stages of establishing a Belmont chapter, and we are looking for committed people to join the chapter and make a difference for Belmont kids.

Stand for Children in Belmont will provide an opportunity to for people to learn about how our town’s government and schools work and interact and will afford individuals the chance to play a role in shaping the future of Belmont’s schools through advocacy. If you are interested in getting involved- to any extent- please send me an e-mail and let me know (masucci(at)post(dot)harvard(dot)edu).

For those who may be interested in learning more about Stand for Children and what may be in store more broadly for Massachusetts schools in the coming year, Stand for Children is hosting their annual Statewide Summit on January 24th in Reading.

The Summit is for parents, educators and community members who are concerned about children and public education and want to learn more about how to make a difference. In just a few hours you can catch up on what’s happening at the state level that will affect our kids and what you can do about it. Everyone is welcome to attend. Advanced registration is required- more details and registration can be found at www.stand.org/ma/summit.

This year’s theme is “working together to keep our commitment to kids in tough times.” You will have an opportunity to connect with other grassroots leaders, learn how you can improve public education, hear from the state’s leading policy makers, and share strategies for winning.

Stand for Children’s 5th Annual Statewide Education Summit, Saturday, January 24, 2009, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., to be held at Reading Memorial High School in Reading, MA. Lunch and childcare provided. 

Meet candidates for new School Superintendent this week!

Just a note out to the B2 community that there’s an important opportunity (act now…it won’t last long!) to meet the four finalists for the incoming Belmont Schools Superintendent this week and next. According to a notice posted on the Town’s Web page, the four candidates will be available to answer questions in a public forum two days this week and two days next week. The schedule is as follows and all meetings are in the Belmont High School, Library between 6:30 – 8:00 pm.  

Thursday (tomorrow) Jan. 15th : Candidate Dr. James J. Kelleher

Friday Jan 16th: Candidate Marie H. Doyle

Wednesday, January 21st: Candidate Dr. Richard J. Hoffmann

Thursday January 22nd: Candidate Dr. George Entwistle 3rd

As we’ve written before, these are the final four candidates for the job and one of them will be taking over as Schools Superintendent next year — an incredibly important position in shaping school policy, driving academic achievement, fostering a top rate work environment for our teachers, and ensuring that Belmont’s students receive the best education possible. Criticisms are often made that the School Department is too insular, so here’s an opportunity to show up and put your question to the candidates for Superintendent yourself. I hope to see you there!

– Paul