Nashoba Regional School Committee Approves Budget Increase

During a recent Nashoba Regional School Committee meeting, the most substantial item discussed was the presentation of the fiscal year 2025 budget. The proposed operating budget for FY 2025 is $66,520,432, marking a 6.71% change over the FY 24 voted budget, with the total budget, including debt service and lease, reaching $69,255,189. Challenges in formulating the budget were highlighted, with specific mentions of lower Chapter 70 funding projections, increased out-of-district placements, and rising transportation costs.

The presentation of the fiscal year 2025 budget was detailed, with the finance and operations director providing a comprehensive video explanation of the budgeting process. The video covered the sources of budget funds, the budget timeline, and the involvement of stakeholders. The committee was faced with the task of addressing a deficit exceeding $1.5 million within the approximately $66 million budget. Additionally, a transparency page is currently under construction to provide the public with detailed information about the budget. Members of the committee expressed their appreciation for the presentation, the educational video, and the efforts to maintain a stable and fiscally responsible budget. They recognized the decisions made to invest in the budget and increase revenue through school choice. During the discussion, questions about the different percentage increases for each town were raised and answered with reference to the Equalization value of each town and enrollment changes impacting the budget differences. Concerns about the sustainability of using excess and deficiency funds in the future were also brought up.

In addition to the budget, the committee approved recommendations from the Insurance Advisory Committee to change the health insurance plan, yielding a cost savings of $340,000 for the budget. This decision followed thorough discussions and was seen as a step towards financial efficiency.

Another issue was the debate around the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) plan, which is mandated by Massachusetts General Law to address disparities in achievement and attendance among student subgroups. The SOA, not a grant but accompanied by associated funding for six years, requires the district to submit a plan every three years. The SOA plan outlined four steps: analyzing student data, setting improvement targets for subgroups, family engagement, and selecting evidence-based programs. The focus areas for the SOA plan are K-5 literacy and high school student engagement, with the aim of addressing disparities among student groups. The committee noted improvements in absenteeism rates, especially at the high school level, and discussed the state’s approach to tracking progress. Concerns were raised regarding potential changes to the state’s accountability system and its impact on schools with significant challenges.

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There was a discussion about the high needs student designation and the percentage of students falling under this category. The committee deliberated on criteria for being considered high-needs and the implications for the district. Additionally, the Innovation Pathway program was a topic of conversation, with hopes expressed for its expansion to include more pathways.

The meeting also addressed the proposed athletic, extracurricular, and parking fees for the upcoming fiscal year. There was support for implementing athletic fees, but concerns were raised regarding the fee structure for non-athletic activities, with some members feeling that they were disproportionately high in comparison. The impact of fees on volunteer-led activities and the need for further discussions with the teachers’ union were also discussed. The committee decided to postpone the vote on extracurricular fees. However, the proposal for a Nashoba Regional High School student parking fee of $100, prorated monthly, was approved with minimal discussion.

Lastly, the committee discussed the progress of a subcommittee, including budget, communication, school building, personnel, policy, audit advisory, and CPAC reports. The next steps for the school building committee were outlined, with a potentially controversial discussion on bathroom design anticipated at the following meeting.

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Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Superintendent:
Kirk Downing
School Board Officials:
Amy Cohen, Karen Devine, Dana Ellis, Joseph Gleason, Michael Horesh, Sharon Poch, Scott Powell, Jacki Reinert, Shandor Simon, Amy Vessels, Leah Vivirito

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