School Committee approves $68 million FY25 school budget; layoffs recommended to help close remaining $1.2 million deficit

March 14, 2024 By Carol Britton Meyer

The School Committee approved the proposed Fiscal 2025 $68 million school operating budget Tuesday night during an in-person meeting.

Prior to the vote, the board discussed the financial impact and potential additional cuts that may be required to meet the $1.2 million remaining budget deficit — and to review proposed layoffs. (See details below). At one point, there were 70 participants via Zoom.

The Advisory Committee and Select Board will also review and vote on the budget at upcoming meetings.

The Hingham Public Schools district faces a number of challenges in achieving a balanced budget for the 2024-25 school year due in part to several significant expenses that are increasing at higher rates than available revenue.

Contractual agreements with employees remain the most significant financial obligation, which means that for the FY25 budget, the committee must consider increases in salary, wages, and other compensation (longevity, parental leave, etc.) negotiated through ongoing collective bargaining with various units of the Hingham Education Association, according to School Committee Chair Nes Correnti. About 82% of the school budget is comprised of salaries.

The district earlier faced a total projected FY25 budget deficit of $2.3 that increased to $2.6 million (including $1.4 million due to increased special education costs), including its most recent proposal to the Hingham Education Association Unit A (teachers) at an additional cost of about $317,000. (See below for details.) There is no longer a deficit due to proposed cuts by the committee, according to Correnti.

The district is requesting additional funding from the town to cover the special education deficit.

“The remaining $1.2 million of the deficit is due to the district’s obligations to several budget drivers, including meeting the contractual agreements with our employees, utilities, and increases in substitute costs,” Supt. of Schools Margaret Adams explained.

Looking toward the April 24 Town Meeting, “we must have a balanced budget, therefore the deficit is eliminated with the reduction in staff,” Correnti told the Hingham Anchor in response to a follow-up email.

MOU explained
Based on the The Memorandum of Understanding crafted last year among the School Committee, Advisory Committee, and Select Board, “we cannot exceed our operating budget by more than 3.5%, therefore the base figure remains  $68,003,624,” Correnti said. “The tricky part is that contract negotiations with the Hingham Education Association are still ongoing, and the current proposals that have been accepted by each side have a higher financial impact than we originally budgeted for. Any additional movement we need to make to settle the contract will have an impact on staffing next year.”

According to the current HEA contract, “the School Committee must notify staff if they are on a reduction in force list (reductions that we know about at the time) by March 15,” Correnti explained.

Recommended layoffs
Also according to the contract, Adams sent out a letter to the staff last week asking for volunteers before she identified positions for possible layoffs herself, and no volunteers came forward.

The School Committee voted for a number of positions to be laid off. “We can recall these employees if we are able to find other ways to fund the positions,” Correnti said. “The School Committee is committed to finding alternative solutions so that we can recall some of these positions.”

The district is recommending the following layoffs in Unit A (teachers) at this time to help meet the deficit in the FY25 budget at Hingham Middle School:

  • Reduction of a library media specialist from 1.0 to .5
  •  .2 art teacher
  • 1 world language teacher

The district recommends the following layoffs in Unit A at this time to meet the deficit in the FY25 budget at Hingham High School:

  • 2 social studies/history teachers
  • 1 world language teacher
  • .8 Art Teacher
  • .6 music teacher

In addition, the district would not replace an English language arts and a math teacher who will be retiring at the end of the school year.

The district recommends the following layoffs at the elementary level at Plymouth River School due to reduced enrollment at the school:

  • 1 elementary teacher

“The district will apply the seniority list for the unit to determine staff who would receive layoff notices. It is expected that a total of nine notices will be issued,” Correnti said.

On February 27, the School Committee presented HEA Unit A (teachers) with an updated offer that includes a 3% cost-of-living adjustment in each year of a newly proposed four-year contract.

This proposal includes an increase over the previous offer of 2.5% in the first year of the new contract. Compounded, these COLA increases alone represent nearly 13% pay raises over four years for all teachers.

Combined with step increases, longevity bonuses, and other proposed contractual increases, more than half of all teachers’ salaries would increase by at least 16% over four years and is in line with contracts recently settled in other school districts, according to Correnti.

Fiscal constraints have implications for the ongoing negotiations with Hingham Public Schools employee unions. “Any additional increases proposed by the HEA in the first two years of the contract would require further reductions to other areas of the FY25 budget and place additional financial pressure on future years,” according to Correnti.

‘We remain committed to negotiating in good faith’
“As we have stated repeatedly, we remain committed to negotiating in good faith to provide fair, competitive compensation to all of our employees, but we can only ratify contracts that are fiscally responsible in order to uphold our obligations to the taxpayers of Hingham,” Correnti and Adams stated in a recent HPS email message.

The School Committee also voted affirmatively on the following FY2025 budget items — in addition to a $68,003,624 operating budget — to help close the budget gap:

  • The MOU allows for additional amounts to be obtained from the town for out-of-district special education tuition. If the projected annual increase for out-of-district tuition and special education contracts is above 2%, those line items will be budgeted at 2% within the school budget, and any variance in costs above that amount will be paid through the town’s reserve fund process if the school operating budget or any applicable grants are insufficient to cover these expenses. The additional amount voted Tuesday night above the 2% was  $1,438,355.
  • Capital outlay for FY25, $921,714
  • An increase in athletic fees from $375 to $425, with the additional hockey fee remaining at $200. The family cap will increase from $950-$1,100. For hockey families, the cap was raised from $1,000-$1,300.
  • A new fee for high school activities and clubs of $100 per student.
  • An increase in facilities fees of 5% to ensure coverage of costs incurred by community use of the schools.

HEA president shares her thoughts
HEA President Jacqueline Beaupré, who spoke at the meeting, said in an email in response to the Hingham Anchor’s request for additional comments:

“The subtext of these budget hearings has repeatedly been that negotiations are the cause of layoffs, but we learned tonight that this crisis unequivocally falls on Dr. Adams’s inadequate budget and the School Committee for approving it. We were shocked to learn that only 2% was budgeted for staffing COLAs. Other unions in town had already negotiated 3%, and a simple market analysis shows 2% would not have been enough, even before accounting for inflation. Their very first salary proposals appear to have already been at their budget limit, with no room to negotiate in good faith. Given that an override was on the table, we do not understand why this happened. When is the committee actually going to plan and fight for a fully funded Hingham Public Schools, take ownership of its mistakes, and stop blaming educators for a budget crisis of its own making?”

In remarks made by Correnti at the beginning of the meeting, she noted the passage last Spring of a $7.8 million operational override.

“At this point last year, we were discussing the possibility of cutting 60 positions to get to a balanced budget if the override wasn’t passed. I was extremely proud we were able to get that passed in order to support the needs of our town,” she said. “It was the first operational override to pass in Hingham since the opening of East School. Along with that override was the commitment to keep our growth rate to 3.5% over the next four years. The taxpayers are being asked to pay, on average, an additional 11% in taxes due to passage of building the new elementary school and public safety facility, as well as the override. The 3.5% was not something that was pulled out of the air. It was part of the work the Sustainable Budget Task Force.”

‘This is really hard’
Correnti also said she recognizes “this is really hard — for the staff, students, parents, administrators and School Committee members. I always like to ask people to remember we have nothing but good intentions when doing the work we do. Personally, I did not run for School Committee to make life miserable for teachers and staff. I have the utmost respect for what they do. I can also say with 100% certainty that THIS committee truly values public education. I don’t think that is necessarily the case in other districts across the U.S. I consider myself extremely fortunate to work with such committed volunteers.”

Correnti also expressed appreciation for the HPS’ “amazing staff,” and thanked teachers, paraprofessionals, interventionists, and other staff members “for all you do for our students and children.”

For more details about the ongoing contract negotiations, visit

For more information about the FY25 budget process, visit

Following Tuesday’s meeting, the School Committee entered into executive session, not to return to open session, to hear a grievance from HEA Unit B, and to provide an update on negotiations with HEA Unit A (teachers), B (paraprofessionals), and D (administrative assistants).

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