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Supplemental School Funds “Unacceptable” to President Pope

City Council President Patricia Pope told the School Committee in no uncertain terms that returning for additional funds was unacceptable and must never happen again at a Finance Committee meeting Thursday.

City Council President Patricia Pope called the School Committee’s budget an abomination and embarrassment before the Finance Committee voted to recommend an additional $2.6 million to fill out the school budget.

"This is absolutely unacceptable ... the budget is due to the city council the same time it’s always due,” said Pope explaining that the “hiccup” was no excuse as she referred to the ousting of Former Superintendent Anthony Pope. “The budget process this year was nothing short of an abomination and embarrassment.”

The additional $2,581,967 represents a 5.3 percent increase over the FY '13 appropriated school budget of $50,852,532. The funds cover five major areas that include additional curriculum costs and special education expenditures.

The city has funds in the Free Cash account to cover the additional expenses, but if that was not the case, the city would be making “some very, very painful cuts right now,” said Pope.

“We would have had you swinging from a lamp post if you had come in here with this without money in your back pocket,” she said to Mayor Arthur Vigeant who presented the request for additional money along with Interim Superintendent Steven Dlott. “We have to start fresh now to move forward and not let this happen again.”

Pope also reiterated comments from finance committee members who warned that the levels being spent at might not be sustainable.

Councilor Kathleen Robey said that the school budget could not be sustained at this level. Councilor Robert Seymour encouraged the superintendent to look at programs that might have to be cut moving forward and not put them in place, saying that is better than getting people involved in programs and then having to let them go.

The committee voted to recommend the council approve the additional funds, but not before Committee Chairman Michael Ossing asked for monthly financial reports from the district. He said he would prefer to work with the school committee, but that the expenditures need to be monitored.

“We are looking to be able to monitor how the school department is spending it’s budget,” he said referring to the approval of the funds as the departments "Christmas" and the monitoring the price that had to be paid.

Ossing also warned that this sets the school up with a larger budget next year, as only $400,000 of the nearly $2.6 million increase are one time costs.

vickie paquette November 30, 2012 at 01:38 PM
I would like to know how much came out of the budget to pay for the consultant to search for a new superintendent. Also, is it standard practice to hire someone to to conduct search?
Dom November 30, 2012 at 01:52 PM
We're spending $7M+ on a new senior center and we can't afford to fund our overcrowded schools. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what the better investment is.
Ellen T November 30, 2012 at 03:25 PM
I agree with both comments above - its an abomination that we don't put the schools as our priority - what a disaster this has been as far as finding and sustaining a Superintendant and organizing a realistic budget. Changes need to be made to those serving on the City Council as well as the School Committee - 'ineffective' does not even begin to cover it.
arnold November 30, 2012 at 03:50 PM
And the $7M+ is only the tip of the iceberg. Once started, you can bet there will be construction over runs. Get past that hurdle the on-going expenses start: added maintenance personnel to clean and maintain the building, gas, electric, water, sewage,grounds maintenance. Then of course they HAVE TO HAVE a number of on-site staff members to plan activities trips, talks, seminars, special events Did I mention the food service needs, hot meals at lunch and dinner? Oops, forgot about the transportation needs - at least one additional van to pick up and drop off participants and what about a nurse practitioner. All to benefit the maybe 200 very vocal and organized members of a special interest group. And so long as they don't have to bear the cost and can pass it on to the folks who are struggling to provide for their family nothing is too good. Gotta have internet, cable, movies, card tables, painting classes, aerobics, other 'activities' --what no pool??? Build a one story addition behind the existing senior center. And still no NEEDS assessment to determine just how many people would even use such a facility and how frequently to justify all this added expense?
JKG November 30, 2012 at 05:59 PM
You forgot the cost of the noise-cancelling ear phones to drown out the sounds of children playing and cheers from sporting events.... IF a new senior building is needed, there has to be a better location than Ward Park!!
Paul Gentile November 30, 2012 at 08:28 PM
The senior center has NOTHING to do with the school budget and has no reflection on the "priorities" of the city. Its long overdue and its irresponsible to bring it into this discussion. As for paying for a consultant based search, I think the school committee has no choice given the fiasco of this past year. The "mob" has made it clear they don't trust the school committee's choices ... so we have to out source the job hunt. As for Pope making a scene, is she serious? The budget is what it is! The mayor and Dlott worked hard on it and they've cut it where they could. Budgets will grow on school systems that are being re-vamped because they NEED it. What the city wants from the schools can NOT be done for less than what they got last year. Wow, a gigantic surge from 50.8 to 53.4 million!!! Let's create another mob circus and lynch those idiots behind the senior center!!!
Marlborough Man December 05, 2012 at 09:33 PM
They want to spent and leave their mark not spend the right way.
Marlborough Man December 05, 2012 at 09:34 PM
?
Marlborough Man December 05, 2012 at 09:40 PM
I agree that a new facility is much given the current economic situation. Aging America does need a place to play and why don't they make the whole ward park a recreation center. The gym is in Bigelow School and then they can make the wading pool an expanded in door lap pool for all citizens not just the 200 elderly...be creative Marlborough!!!!!!

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