A well crafted school budget plan should signal to the community what priorities the School Committee has for its students. It should be a statement about what is important and necessary to enrich and nurture learning for each child. With the guidance and leadership of the Needham School Committee, I believe the 2019-20 budget proposal does just that.
During the month of January the School Committee will continue to discuss and eventually vote on a budget plan for the 2019-20 (FY20) school year that includes funds for Full Day Kindergarten, the opening of the new Sunita L. Williams Elementary School, and resources and programs designed to promote equity and inclusion. The proposed FY20 budget includes a request for an additional $5.3 million or a 7.5% increase over FY19. To learn more about the budget plan and view the budget presentation shared with the School Committee in December: NPS FY20 Budget Proposal Information
The community is invited to participate in the budget discussions now and throughout the winter and spring as other Town officials, including the Finance Committee, Select Board, and Town Meeting, review, discuss, and debate the School Department’s spending plan for 2019-20.
A key opportunity for public participation will be held on Tuesday evening, January 15, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. during the School Committee’s meeting at Broadmeadow. Parents, students, staff, and community members are encouraged to share thoughts, comments, and questions about the budget proposal prior to the School Committee’s vote on January 22nd.
Highlights of the FY20 Budget Plan include:
• Full Day Kindergarten After years of discussion and planning the budget proposal includes the funds needed for the implementation of a Full Day Kindergarten (FDK) program in the Needham Schools. Needham is one of a few communities in the Commonwealth that does not have a FDK program, and the plan calls for a publicly-funded and compulsory FDK program for all eligible children. Most Massachusetts communities have a FDK program and many others have a combination of half day/partial week FDK programs available to either all children or some; many of these programs also require lotteries for admission and tuition. The Needham School Committee believes that a FDK program, one that is developmentally appropriate, student centered, and properly staffed, will boost learning for all of Needham’s children assisting them to grow and learn as they continue elementary school and beyond. Funds for additional teachers, supplies, and a full-time teacher assistant in each Kindergarten classroom are included in the implementation plan. More information about FDK can be found here: Full Day Kindergarten in the Needham Public Schools: Report to the School Committee
• Sunita L. Williams Elementary School The planned September 2019 opening of the Sunita L. Williams Elementary School, which will replace the Hillside School, will require some additional resources and staffing to ensure student and program needs are met. The District will consolidate a special education program in the new school, and this will require some additional staffing. A slight increase in office and administrative staff is also sought for the new school, which will be doubled in size compared to the existing Hillside Elementary School. Additional information about the new school can be found here: Sunita L. Williams Elementary School Information
• Resources for Equity, Inclusion, and Access The budget proposal also outlines additional funds to ensure we are supporting an equitable educational program for all students. Resources for an additional bus to support the growing interest in school transportation; funds to strengthen recruitment efforts for teachers and staff of color; programs to assist students of color at the high school; additional staffing for our growing English Language Learning (ELL) program; and funds to support coaches and transportation for the Unified Sports Program, an interscholastic athletic opportunity conceived by the Special Olympics for differently abled students, are all included in the proposal. For additional information about the work the district is doing to ensure equity and inclusion for all, please check out a recent presentation to the School Committee: Race, Equity, Access & Leadership Report to the School Committee Along with the funding proposed for Full Day Kindergarten, this budget plan clearly prioritizes the need to ensure all children in the Needham Public Schools feel welcomed and included and that each child has access to high quality educational programming, PreK-12. In fact, over $2 million of the $5.3 million plan, or about 38% of the total request, will support an enriching, accessible, and equitable education for each child enrolled in the Needham Public Schools.
The budget plan also includes funds for additional classroom and specialist teachers and staff as well as the resources required to meet ongoing special education student needs, including tuition.
I encourage you to learn more about the budget and make your voice heard at the School Committee’s upcoming budget hearing scheduled for Tuesday, January 15th at 7:00 p.m. Questions and comments about the plan may also be submitted to the School Committee: email@example.com