School Committee approves $65.7 million Fiscal 2024 budget, including funding for some ‘unmet needs’

Photo courtesy of Hingham Public Schools

February 28, 2023 by Carol Britton Meyer

After many hours of meetings involving numerous presentations on, and discussions surrounding, the proposed Fiscal 2024 school budget, the School Committee unanimously approved this week the amount of $65,703,985 to fully fund the identified level service needs of $65,002,111 — plus $701,874 (45%) of the total identified by school administrators as critical unmet needs for FY24 that were not initially included in the level services budget.

Included in the critical needs funding is $300,000 to fund technology needs that were previously funded through capital outlay; $115,174 for a full-time school nurse coordinator position; $200,000 to fund staff professional development; and $86,700 to offset Kindergarten tuitions.

“The Committee’s vote will reduce the proposed FY24 kindergarten tuition by $800 per student but does not allow the district to fully fund kindergarten,” School Committee Chair told the Hingham Anchor in response to a follow-up email. “A fully funded kindergarten program would have resulted in an additional increase of $845,300.”

In the event the proposed level services budget is not approved at the April 24 Town Meeting and at the subsequent April 29 Town election through an operating override to cover both the municipal and school budget deficits, “the school budget will face a material budget deficit of $4,044,102, which would require significant reductions and would be detrimental to our community,” Ayer said.

It was explained at the meeting that as part of the municipal and school budget process, school and municipal departments will be considering an Memorandum of Understanding for future budget years to reduce additional impacts to taxpayers, according to Ayer. “An MOU proposal has not yet been provided to the school or municipal departments, however,” she said.

In a telephone conversation with the Hingham Anchor, Select Board Chair William Ramsey explained that any such MOU between the Select Board, Advisory Committee, and School Committee would involve coming to an agreement to “keep budget growth rates in check beyond the 2.5% annual increase allowed under Proposition 2-1/2 and that we wouldn’t need another [potential] override for four or five years.”

In the meantime, he said, “Maybe we will have more development in town,” which would absorb some of the tax burden.

More information is expected to be available at next week’s Select Board meeting related to whether an override will be placed on the April 24 Town Meeting warrant and April 29 Town Election ballot; what the final deficit figure is  for both the municipal and school budgets; how much state aid Hingham will receive; and the tax impact if the override passes, on top of the higher property taxes associated with the recent Town Meeting approval of a  new Foster School and a new public safety facility.

In the meantime, The Advisory Committee will hold a hybrid meeting on the proposed Fiscal 2024 school budget on Thursday, March 2, at 7 p.m. — in-person in the South Hearing Room of Town Hall and remotely.

At thata time, the AC will discuss both the proposed balanced and level spending budgets in addition to additional school spending requests.

Dial in information:
Dial in: 929-205-6099
Meeting ID: 839 8953 8770
Passcode: 1135

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.