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Superintendent lays out potential cuts

March 21, 2012

This is a letter that was sent today by email to parents of Walpole school students by School Superintendent Lincoln Lynch:

Dear Parents, Guardians and Staff:

As you may know, the projected revenues available to the School Department do not allow for a level services budget next year.  This Thursday evening, the School Committee will be deliberating on the consequences of further cuts to the 2012-2013 school budget.  You are welcome to attend the meeting.  Alternatively, you may view the meeting live, please tune in to Channel 22 for Comcast customers or Channel 30 for Verizon customers.  Playbacks of the School Committee Meetings are run on Saturday mornings at 9:00 a.m. on Channel 8 for Comcast and Channel 31 for Verizon.  You should be aware that there will be severe impacts to the quality of education.

In addition, the School Committee has also chosen to pursue a second path concurrently which will require an override of the constraints of Proposition 2 ½.  If the community passes the override, $2.7 million will be used to avoid the aforementioned cuts entirely and implement partial targeted restorations.

Budgeting decisions have been the focus of over a dozen public meetings since January 1st.  The Committee continues with the concentric circle approach and has avoided, to the extent possible, cutting direct services from the classroom.  To date, the following actions have been taken:

1.         Elimination of 40 positions and reduction of hours to 68 employees

2.         Operational efficiencies of approximately $1 million

3.         All union and non-union employees made concessions of $1.2 million

So how did we get here to this point?  Since 2010, revenues for the Town of Walpole have been reduced $3 million. Federal grants for mandated services have been cut another $1.2 million. Mandated Special Education services are up $500,000.  We are now at a tipping point.

If the override fails, a combination of the following cuts will result:

Elementary Middle High School Fees
Cut 12 teachers Cut 6 teachers Cut 6 positions, Lunch +$0.25
Dramatic class size implications 3 options under consideration (4 teachers, 1 aide, 1 custodian) More participation in Extended Day
80% of classes have 25 or more students 1)All Foreign Language Scheduling conflicts= less competitive transcripts Bus fee +$100   Athletic fee +$50
And 30% of classes  have 30 or more students 2)7th Gr Foreign Lang + Social Studies 725 classroom seats already eliminated; 375 more= total of 1100 over last 4 years ORBus fee +   $300           Athletic fee +$350
3)Eng/Sci/Social St Will clean bathrooms, but rotate corridors, very limited classrooms New fees either:     Bus: $350 or $550  Athletics: $250 or $550

The implications of a successful override are:

Elementary Middle High School System
+5 teachers +3 teachers +4 teachers Fees stay same as today but lunch increases by 25 cents
Class size max is 25 Math and research Sci/Eng/FLang/Tech-Business Curriculum+prof dev restored

School Committee members are faced with the responsibility to make difficult choices between damaging cuts to Walpole’s high performing school district.  It is my responsibility to provide facts and the associated consequences to those impacted.  To that end, I encourage you to become informed by either attending the budget meeting this Thursday at the Town Hall or by viewing the educational channels.

Again, the local cable channels are as follows:

Thursday night live – Comcast – Channel 22

Thursday night live – Verizon – Channel 30

Playback Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. – Comcast – channel 8

Playback Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. – Verizon – channel 31

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