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Holliston School Committee News

by Lisa Kocian

School Committee Newsletter  Issue #5 -- January 29, 2017

Special Edition: Budget Update

As the schools and the town begin what is commonly known as “budget season,” we offer a primer on the process.  What follows is the budget timeline and short descriptions of each element.  


FY18 Budget* Development Calendar



Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016

Budget Driver Review - Part I - Salaries

Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016

Budget Driver Review - Part II - All Others (except Special Ed)

Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017

Budget Driver Review - Part III - Special Education

Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017

School-Wide Improvement and Learning Goals Mid-Year Update

Friday, Jan. 20,

Budget Workshop -- Strategic Improvement Initiatives Presentations 

Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017

Superintendent's Recommended FY18 Budget

Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017

Budget Discussion

Thursday, Mar. 2, 2017

School Committee Votes FY18 Budget - Preliminary

Tuesday, Mar. 7,

Finance Committee Presentation (7:05pm)

Thursday, Mar. 16, 2017

Budget Discussion (if needed)

Thursday, Apr. 6, 2017

Public Hearing on FY18 Budget

Thursday, Apr. 27, 2017

Budget Discussion (if needed)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Budget Discussion (if needed)

Monday, May 8,

Annual Town Meeting

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Annual Town Election


*Fiscal year 2018 runs from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018.


Budget Driver Reviews  Throughout the fall and early winter, HPS Administration presents the anticipated fixed-cost increases to the School Committee in a three-part series:

  1. Salaries

  2. Other non-SPED fixed costs (operational, facilities, non-special education tuitions)

  3. Special Education

These drivers give a sense to the Committee and to the public of the overall budget forecast for the upcoming fiscal year.  It is important to note that these estimates were as of the date they were presented and are subject to change as the budget season progresses.

Budget Workshop  In January, HPS traditionally presents to the public its strategic improvement initiatives, formulated from the district’s strategic plan and each school’s annual strategic goals. This presentation focuses on proposed Strategic Improvement Initiatives, as well as restorations, i.e., re-funding positions and programs that have been cut in recent years.

Superintendent’s Recommended FY18 Budget  Taking the input from the budget workshop presentations and working in concert with the administrative team, Dr. Brad Jackson, superintendent of schools, formulates his recommended budget to the School Committee. The School Committee Budget Subcommittee then meets – usually on several occasions – to do the difficult work of examining the administration’s budget recommendations and then formulating a budget recommendation for the full School Committee.

Budget Discussion It is during this meeting that the full School Committee discusses the budget in detail. The Budget Subcommittee presents its findings and recommendations to the School Committee and a discussion ensues as to how the recommendations were devised, and what changes, if any, need to be made.  In the past several years, the guideline from the town’s Finance Committee has been 1.5 percent. That is, each department must submit a budget that represents no more than a 1.5 percent increase in spending over the previous year. This year, however, the Finance Committee has issued a guideline of 1 percent.

School Committee Votes With the work of questioning, analyzing, and data mining behind them, the School Committee votes on a budget, which will be presented to the Finance Committee for their consideration.

Finance Committee Presentation Representatives from the School Committee present the voted budget to the Finance Committee, and answer members’ questions. Then the Finance Committee formulates a recommendation for Town Meeting, which is printed in the warrant, and as part and parcel of the articles.  

Budget Discussion  The School Committee takes the feedback from the Finance Committee and, during this meeting, often revises (cuts) its budget based on that input.  

Public Hearing  This is the meeting at which the public is invited to be heard by the School Committee regarding its finalized budget. While School Committee meetings are always open to the public, this meeting is specifically designed to hear from the public regarding the FY18 budget.

Budget Discussions  After receiving community input on the budget, the dialogue continues and revisions to the final budget may be made.

Annual Town Meeting The forum at which the town gathers to vote on, among other things, the budget.  As a community that is governed by an Open Town Meeting, ultimately it is those who attend Town Meeting -- not the School Committee and not the Finance Committee -- who have the final say regarding the amount of funds allocated to each department.  

Public Access to Documents: As we work our way through this schedule, the administration is updating the district’s “Budget Book” online. You will find detailed information there on the budget drivers, with more links coming as the process unfolds.  The Budget Book can be found at .


Please note: It’s important to understand that the process outlined above relates to the operating budget. The capital budget - how it is funded and allocated - is separate. In general, capital is typically voted on in the fall unless there is a compelling reason to allocate funds for summer projects. Capital, which is the category under which any facility-related needs or technology would be funded, is also reviewed by the Finance Committee, which issues recommendations just as it does during the operating budget process. Ultimately, the capital budget is voted on by Town Meeting, which always has the final say on budget matters. 

School Committee Members

School Committee members are Holliston residents elected to three-year terms. All Massachusetts School Committees have three main purviews:

  1. Hire and evaluate the superintendent;

  2. Prepare and approve a school budget, which is subject to final approval by the town;

  3. Create and amend policies.

Our agendas, meeting minutes, and policies are available on our web site at

Feel free to contact any committee member with questions or comments. Please note we all have new email addresses:

Anne Louise Hanstad, Chair

Stacey Raffi, Vice Chair  

Martha Devoe      

Lisa Kocian                  

Cynthia Listewnik    

Andy Morton          

Joan Shaughnessy