February 9, 2022 By Staff editor
The Hingham Public Schools Department could see a 1.43% increase in revenue over its fiscal year 2023 budget following a joint town hall meeting with the select board, school committee and the city’s advisory committee on Tuesday evening.
The proposed $62.6 million budget, unanimously approved by the school board at its Tuesday meeting, focuses heavily on funding favorable new positions, rising energy costs, and electricity and adjustment to general annual price increases.
Acting Superintendent Gary Maestas preemptively kicked off the department’s budget discussion by stating that the department, along with the school committee, has worked diligently to develop a fiscally responsible budget that best meets the needs of its students.
Additionally, while the department is well into developing its strategic plan, Maestas said some of the budget items are in line with the department’s upcoming plans.
“I think this year’s budget, like most, is difficult to budget for, especially when you’re trying to be mindful of the needs of the city, especially after the bulk of COVID,” said Masters. “We were very conscious of developing a budget that did not include things that would not be in the strategic plan in the future.”
According to the department’s director of business and support services, John Ferris, who helped craft the fiscal year 2023 budget, the department added 11 new full-time positions in its previous budget. Therefore, the city should provide an overall increase to further fund these positions.
Likewise, this year’s proposed budget adds additional full-time positions to the department. The department, ranking the importance of each hire, is asking for $80,000 to hire a data analysis manager; $40,900 to hire a human resources clerk; $95,000 to hire a payroll and benefits manager; as well as several other positions.
In total, the proposed budget provides for a total of $850,000 in new hiring requests.
According to Ferris, $54.4 million, or about 87% of the proposed budget, reflects ministry personnel costs. This includes all full-time and part-time employees of the department as well as the education provided to its regular and special education students.
Other costs include the adjustment to general price increases, estimated at 4.7%, various construction, material and contract expenses.
While the department has seen an increase in costs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ferris said some of the total budget costs are being offset by various grants — an expected total offset of $4.5 million.
Additionally, City Administrator Tom Mayo said in his preliminary presentation of the city’s budget that the city expects an overall increase of $2.5 million from the previous year, citing an increase $165,000 from state funds; $983,115 in US Federal Rescue Plan Act funds; and $475,000 in local revenue.
“I see a path to a balanced budget with no waivers this year,” Mayo said. “When I say I see a path to a balanced budget, that is, assuming some level of potential cuts, I mean cuts to additional demands and not cuts to core services or even services level.”
While the city plans to hold future meetings regarding the ministry’s proposed budget before voting, the select council voted unanimously to recommend approval of four school funding projects, including the rehabilitation of playgrounds. high school tennis court, the Plymouth River School Window Project, a five-year lease for school bus vehicles for special education and additional funds to meet the costs of pre -construction and to open tenders for the Foster Elementary School project.
According to Ferris, the high school’s tennis courts are not up to par and are in serious need of repair. In addition, the department needs additional buses to meet the transportation needs of special education students. The city is set to discuss plans to build Foster Elementary School later this year.
The full draft budget is available on the ministry’s website. For more information, visit hinghamschools.org.