Archive 2008 - 2019

April 25 School Committee Update/Budget #6

by Erica Plunkett

First on the agenda, the School Committee voted to approve an Overnight Field Trip Request for one student to attend the Best Buddies Leadership Conference in Bloomington, Indiana this summer.  Next, the Committee voted to establish the final day of school.  This date will be a half-day on Wednesday, June 26th.  Keep your fingers crossed….

Business Manager Keith Buday then gave a brief presentation on School Choice openings.  He informed the Committee that the initial application period has ended.  From this, the District holds lotteries and develops waitlists.  The following request is Mr. Buday’s first for the 2013-2014 school year.  Holliston has had 102 requests for seats so far, which is slightly higher than the same time last year.  Holliston continues to be well-regarded by other towns.  Mr. Buday’s proposal adds a total of 34.5 FTE students, counting Kindergarten as a .5 FTE.  The District is graduating 11 School Choice students this year, offset by 4 students moving from K to First Grade.  The net potential increase is 25.5 FTE’s.  Numerous applicants are tied to prospective siblings so we will not fill all these seats.

School Choice seats are in the following grades: Full Day K (10), Half-Day K (5), 1st (2), 2nd (2), 3rd (5), 4th (1), 5th (5), 6th (1), 7th (4), 9th(5), 10th (2).  At this point, school choice revenues bring in about $700K.   


The last item on the agenda was further discussion around the FY14 Budget.  The Budget Sub Committee met earlier this week with their Finance Committee liaisons.  While the initial intention of the School Committee was to vote over $250K in cuts, with high hopes that the Fin Com would be able to close much of the remaining $445K gap, towards the end of the meeting, the School Committee learned that the Finance Committee voted in a school budget of $29,389,466.  With the School Committee previously voted budget of $29,866,219, that leaves a gap of $476,753.  The vote was tabled as the School Committee directed the Budget Sub Committee to go back and address the much larger gap. 

In the interests of giving the most complete information, these are the proposed cuts that were discussed last night and will very likely return next Thursday, which is the last meeting prior to Town Meeting.

1.      Reduce Out-of-District Budget to reflect more current student need:    $103,846

Explanation: two students who were slated to move out-of-district will be staying in-district)

2.      Reconsider plan to increase HS Band position to 1.0 FTE:                     $35,328

Explanation: several courses have very low enrollment for next year:

Beginning Guitar II (CP1)- 1student

Music as Protest (CP1)- 7students

Composition and Arrangement (CP1)- 7students

Songwriting (CP1)- 4students

Stage Performance (CP1)- 5

3.      Reduce .5 FTE HS Drama Teacher:                                                         $39,670

Explanation: three courses have very low enrollment for next year:

Drama in the Here and Now- 5students

Directing Workshop- 4students

Improvisation- 0students

Please note that ALL extracurricular Performing Arts program will remain.  This includes the Fall Musical, Globefest, the Spring Play, the Adams Spring Musical, Jazz Band, and Chorus (Harmonix, Act 11). 

4.      Reduce 1.0 FTE HS Spanish Teacher:                                                      $57,355

Explanation: student interest is lower

Add .5 FTE HS French Teacher:                                                                    -$39,670

Explanation: student interest is higher.  There will be some courses not offered next year, as well, due to low student interest, including French V Honors and French 1 CP1.

Reduce .33 FTE MS Spanish Teacher:                                                           $28,963

Explanation: able to make existing classes a little bigger

5.      Reduce K Unified Arts Teacher from .68 FTE to .52FTE:                      $10,517

Explanation: Phys Ed teachers will be able to take on some of these responsibilities

6. Assume Four (4) new School Choice Seats:                                               $20,000

Grand Total:                                                                                                $256,009

Again, with the most recent Fin Com vote, the School Committee will need to cut an additional $220,744, to close the entire gap of $476,753. 

The School Committee would like to thank all the parents and students who came out to speak so passionately on behalf of the drama and music programs.  As additional information on Drama programs in other Districts:

Medway- extracurricular only

Medfield- extracurricular only

Ashland- 1.0 FTE

Millis- extracurricular only

Keefe- extracurricular only

Hopkinton- in school- three classes

Needham- in school, three class.

We would like to reiterate that the plan was NOT to cut the program in its entirety, but to reduce the offerings in response to low registration numbers.  All members have high hopes that the affected teachers will continue to build up their programs and design offerings that meet the needs and interests of all our students.  The Budget Sub Committee and ultimately, the entire Committee, will be looking at everything now, with this large gap, but we will go to Town Meeting with a budget that meets the Fin Com guideline

The next School Committee meeting is next week, May 2.  This will be the last meeting before Town Meeting on Monday, May 6th. Central to this agenda is:   the FY14 Budget and the Superintendent Evaluation.  The last School Committee Office Hours for the year are Friday, May 3, 7:30-8:30 at Pejamajo.  As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact any School Committee member or Central Office Administration. 

Kindest regards,

Erica Plunkett

Chair, Holliston School Committee

Comments (7)

It has been said in this article and at the meeting itself that we should "keep in mind that the extracurricular programs are not being cut" even though there is only one drama teacher who will be able to get a job elsewhere if we cut him to half time. He has a family to support after all. The Holliston drama program is known throughout Mass and Mr. Hickey is the reason why.

Andrew Mades | 2013-04-27 13:01:15

We shouldn't be comparing ourselves to surrounding towns, we should be comparing ourselves to the top 30 school systems in the state. As Holliston is ranked number 26. I think it is important to expose our children to the arts so they build an appreciation as they go forward in life.

No comparison | 2013-04-26 18:26:31

Drama is an elective. Students are not guaranteed placement within their desired elective. The final placement is at the discretion of HS staff. Part of that decision involves ensuring that class sizes are neither too small nor too large. If the HS staff wishes to do so, they are able to disperse students amongst all the electives so that all meet minimum class sizes. How do I know? Because for at least two years that happened to my child's elective choice/placement. To be well trained, a drama student requires access to the FULL portfolio of courses. To cut half of the portfolio, would be akin to cutting out algebra and geometry from the math curriculum.

HollRes | 2013-04-26 14:35:06

In benchmarking, one always compares oneself with the best as per Kristen's comment. To do so otherwise is to design-in mediocrity or even failure. Heaven forbid we compare ourselves with neighboring towns for French Inmersion, otherwise we would be designing that program out of our schools too!

HolRes | 2013-04-26 14:15:14

Can't entirely disagree with your point John. Likewise, I'm sure that you won't disagree with the following numbers which also don't lie ... 800ish - average nightly attendance for three recent fall musicals ... 75ish - average yearly number of students participating in recent musicals ... 100 - grade K thru 8 students (aka "The Future!)who auditioned for the limited children roles each of the past three musicals ... 75 - Miller School students participating in their recent musical ... 5 - Number of drama department staff that Framingham brought to 2012 Drama Festival preliminry round competition held in Holliston (Only 1 staff person from HHS, and they still advanced) ... 15 - Number of schools advancing to the final round of the STATEWIDE Drama Festival along with Holliston last March. So you see, there's so much more to this issue than three poorly enrolled classes. PS: Sorry for the "ish's" - working from memory here.

Bud Dodge | 2013-04-26 13:55:38

Of course we should compare our budget items/curriculum to ouor neighboringtowns who are in similar demoographic and economic circustances that we are. These numners don't lie: Drama in the Here and Now- 5students Directing Workshop- 4students Improvisation- 0students

John | 2013-04-26 11:29:02

The current caliber of the HHS drama program should be compared to the strong programs that exist in Brockton, Hamilton Wenham, Weston,Framingham,The Bromfield School and not the towns referenced who have reduced their drama program to an extra curriclar activity.

Kristen Dodge | 2013-04-26 08:43:57