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Chelmsford Schools Prepare For Sequester

The topic that has dominated discussion in Washington recently was also a part of the discussion at this week's Chelmsford School Committee meeting.

Regardless of what happens and has been happening in Washington, many school districts such as Chelmsford will feel the hit of the looming sequester.

However, Chelmsford Public School business manager Kathy McWilliams, says Chelmsford's schools are still planning on the status quo.

“We start with what our budget was in 2013, and what we’re allotted this year. The Town Manager (Paul Cohen) requested a level service budget and three percent increase, and that equals $1.4 million,” McWilliams said. “The money will be spent on the teachers and staff and then we have an operational cost of $600,000 that we have to mandate.”

The cost of Special Education for Chelmsford students also plays a big factor into any budget increase according to McWilliams.

“We’re trying to say we can live within our means all the time, close to a three percent increase, but it does appear difficult if I want to add programs, and I can never know the special needs tuitions all the time,” she said.

One of the other possible generators discussed was the option for more School Choice slots. Chelmsford Superintendent Dr. Frank Tiano said that for the past three years, the District would accept students from other communities for a fee. But with the projected increased enrollment, Tiano felt comfortable to make the recommendations for more open slots.

“It’s a great way to generate revenue and it helps out our student culture. We have looked at next school year’s enrollment projections, and based on enrollment, based on size, what we did at the time is we opened the first few slots were slated for (Chelmsford High School),” he said.

A recommendation by Tiano for fifteen additional school choice students to come to Chelmsford unanimously passed that evening. Some of Tiano’s suggestions included five open slots at the McCarthy School (Grades five-seven), seven slots at the Parker School grade six, seven or eight,  and three slots at CHS (Grade nine).

Jennifer Sneringer, a Lowell resident who works for the Lowell Public Schools spoke at the School Committee Meeting, and mentioned that while she was happy with the Lowell Schools as a whole, she felt that the Chelmsford Schools had what her Son, who is a sophomore, needed as far as music and theater were concerned.

“If he were a Division One athlete, then Lowell would be a great fit. My son is interested in music and theater and the arts programs in Chelmsford are fantastic. I would the opportunity for my son to be part of that program," said Sneringer. “My son is a wonderful student. He is not a discipline problem in any way. I just think that he would benefit from a school that offers more diverse programs in music and arts. I understand that we’re all in budget constraints, and there are tough decisions to be made.”

The proposed Fiscal Year '14 budget is available on the School Department website.

Mike Rigney March 02, 2013 at 08:14 PM
Hi Iron Mike, you're right that we are a ways off from forced layoffs, much less forced teacher layoffs. But I'd like to address your question about whether we have identified the 10 or 20 WORST teachers because it might be of interest and shed some light on how the Chelmsford school district is thinking about teaching quality. I've split my response into three parts to deal with Patch's character limit. The School Committee does not maintain a teacher performance list akin to seniority lists. nor does the district. One reason for that is nobody has a good idea of how to create such a ranking. Only 20% or so of our teachers have classes that take annual standardized assessments and even if all of them did, it's not entirely clear how you would deduce teaching effectiveness from students' subject knowledge alone. This is a long-standing debate without clear answers but if you or anyone else is interested, you might start with googling Value Added Models for Educators.
Oreo March 13, 2013 at 12:51 AM
Does anyone know how the Custodian lawsuit against the town and school committee is going? Another bright move by the school department...and no, I'm not a custodian!!!
Tyler Jozefowicz March 13, 2013 at 02:05 AM
Rob C: you are hilarious . Why not go back to Herbert Hoover according to your logic. The 3.8 Trillon. There are no major Obama spending initiatives. Obamacare is negligible and scheduled to take effect 2014. Care to name a few that are attributed to obama; you will be hard pressed. I detailed the Bush initiatives that continue . BTW , every year you can continue to add the revenue lost by the bush tax cuts of 2001/2003 that continue year after year. The did not go away when Obama was elected . We cut 1.3 trillion in Aug 2011, enacted 600B in revenue in Jan 2013, there is 2 trillion, so give it up and get real. Your sarcasm and condescending platitudes , e.g., " pick up a history book" ignorance ,don't add anything to the conversation either.
Tyler Jozefowicz March 13, 2013 at 02:11 AM
Rob C. : that's right , you don't know much about the " school department in Chelmsford" according to you. The article we are commenting on is The sequester affecting Chelmsford . Not trying to embarrass you, you can do that on your own, but that is the topic we are here for.
Rob Carey March 13, 2013 at 03:06 AM
Again Tyler, some reading comprehension classes are in order for you. Yes this article is on sequester and Chelmsford Schools preparing for it. My comment about trimming some dead weight from the payroll directly goes along with sequester and Chelmsford schools preparing for it. If they need to save money due to budget cuts, I would go after dead weight on the payroll first if there is any.

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