SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 27, 2014

Superintendent requests 5 percent increase in budget

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — The School Committee is reviewing a $36.1 million budget request for next year, representing just under a 5 percent increase over this year.

The fiscal 2015 request is about $1.6 million more than last year, with much of the increase driven by contractual salary obligations, Superintendent Lisa Dana said. About 80 percent of the school budget is taken up by salaries, she said.

Part of the increase is driven by raises in the current teachers contract that kick in June 30, the last day of this fiscal year. The delayed raises saved money in this year’s budget but will have to be paid for next year.

This is also the third and final year of the teachers’ contract, and Dana said the district will be starting negotiations with the Danvers Teachers Association. Any new raises negotiated will have to be added onto the one that takes effect June 30.

The new school budget sets aside just under $1.3 million for salary increases, Dana said.

The budget for special education is up by a little more than $350,000, or 9 percent.

Dana said enrollment is stable and will not trigger the need to hire more teachers and staff. This year’s student enrollment is 3,644, according to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

School Committee Chairman Eric Crane said that aside from salary increases, “everything else has pretty much been level-funded.”

The schools are asking for two new positions, a half-time preschool special education teacher at Riverside School, and a half-time English-language learner position. The percentage of English-language learners in the schools ranges from 0.4 percent at the high school to 1 percent to 2 percent in the elementary schools.

The district is also seeing five retirements, including that of longtime Athletic Director John Sullivan.

The School Committee is scheduled to vote on the budget proposal on March 10, after selectmen review the entire town budget on March 5.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.