SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 7, 2013

Danvers schools seek $1.1M budget hike

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — The schools are requesting $1.1 million more next year to boost special education and student support at the high school; improve basic skills, speech and language learning at the elementary level; and increase the number of teachers at the middle school, Superintendent Lisa Dana said.

The nearly $34.5 million budget request for fiscal 2014 represents a 3.35 percent increase over this year’s budget, and it would add a net of seven full-time equivalent positions, though the number of people who would be added may be more because some of the positions are part-time.

Dana said the budget requests are “focused with the priorities of the strategic plan,” as the schools are in the final year of its five-year improvement plan. The School Committee held a budget hearing last week and is scheduled to vote on the budget Monday.

The budget request calls for $551,000 in additional salaries.

At Danvers High, the budget would add a full-time intervention specialist to help students recover credits for core courses they need to graduate. The specialist would run a credit recovery computer lab.

Also at the high school, a full-time special education teacher would help students who are anxious and having trouble staying in a regular school setting. Students would check in regularly with the therapeutic teacher, who would also work with other teachers on strategies to support the students’ work.

The budget request also includes an additional part-time social worker at the high school.

Enrollment increases are behind the addition of a world language teacher at the high school. This year, an Advanced Placement course could not be held due to the lack of staffing, Dana said.

At Riverside School, Dana is requesting a part-time basic skills teacher and a part-time speech and language teacher. To offset this addition, a teacher’s aide position at the elementary level has been eliminated.

At Holten Richmond Middle School, the addition of a sixth-grade science teacher and a seventh-grade social studies teacher would allow all three teams to be fully staffed and taught by teachers certified in the content area they teach.

Dana is also proposing an English-language learners teacher to be shared between the middle and high schools, an elementary team chairperson for special education, and the filling of the vacant middle school curriculum director’s job.

The schools will spend nearly $954,000 more this year for contractual salary increases. Retirements will save the district $133,000.

The budget request also calls for $30,000 more to pay for half of the salary of the DanversCares prevention coalition’s executive director, a position that formerly was paid for mostly through grants, and for $40,000 more to pay for a portion of a school resource officer, sharing salary with the Police Department. This would provide for a full-time resource officer at both the middle and high schools.

Requests for supplies, materials, technology and professional development would mean a $130,000 increase in the budget.

The School Committee is scheduled to meet Monday at 7 p.m. in the Toomey Room at Town Hall.

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