Budget Struggles Could Lead to Wareham School Layoffs
The Wareham School Committee voted near unanimously for a $29.4-million budget for 2018-2019. The budget marks an increase of $1.0 million, or 3.6%, compared to the year earlier. However, Wareham School layoffs now seem likely, as the budget will be unable to address increasing costs year over year.
Contracted salary increases, higher transportation costs, and out-of-district tuition costs for students are among the primary factors that have contributed to the district’s need for a higher budget.
One area, in particular, substitute teachers, is particularly in need of cash injections. The district was able to pay about $67.00 a day for substitute teachers, which is less than area districts. As a result, it has struggled to keep or even get substitutes for its schools.
The increased costs of transportation in the district were due to a number of out-of-district placements. That number is expected to rise in 2018.
Cuts to the district had already been made. The $1.0-million increase will contribute to additional contract costs, such as a $1.3-million increase for salaries, with out-of-district tuition making up just under $394,000, and transportation cost increases adding another $322,000. The substitutes increase in costs is pegged at $96,000.
One member of the committee called the increase and overall budget “pitiful.”
Meanwhile, Board of Selectmen Chairman Peter Teitelbaum said that the town would be unable to afford the $1.0-million increase.
“If the school district was to get a budget of about $1 million more, the town would have to cut 15 employees,” said Teitelbaum at the December 6 meeting, noting that the town has known for a few years that 2019, “would be a bad year.”
Whether that manifests itself as Wareham School layoffs or reductions in other areas remains to be seen, but the town finds itself strapped for cash with multiple issues that need addressing.
“School Committee accepts $29.4 million budget, though town layoffs could loom,” Wicked Local, December 21, 2017.