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School District’s Core Values Guide FY22 Budget Plans

Apr 29, 2021 06:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson

Bellingham School Superintendent Peter Marano

by Ashley Kazijian, Contributing Writer

The budget for the 2022 fiscal year was presented during the April 13 School Committee meeting held via Zoom. School Superintendent Peter Marano began by reviewing the Bellingham Public Schools’ vision statement followed by highlighting academic excellence, compassion, perseverance, respect, and safety as the core values. These values, along with the district’s five pillars to success, guide the district’s decision-making process in all areas. The School Committee used the five pillars to break down how the budget plan will support the goals and initiatives of the district’s vision statement.

Pillar 1, academic excellence, is reflected in the budget through textbooks and instructional materials (math and history/social science textbooks for grades 6-8), professional development, curriculum review process (stipends for review teams in history/social science and ELA), programming (Project Lead the Way), academic-student support personnel (interventionists/tutors), and memberships/partnerships (Massachusetts Partnership for Youth).

Pillar 2, communication, is reflected in the budget through district technology services/licenses (Blackboard Connect, School Brains, Safe Schools, SeeSaw, Family ID, Smores Newsletter Licenses, and family technology support).

Pillar 3, culture and climate, is reflected in the budget through professional development (full-day professional development days and stipends for curriculum work) and district technology (IT internship program). The district will also continue work with Kalise Wornum’s Cultural Proficiency Series. This past year the district’s administration focused on building capacity and understanding racial micro aggression, implicit bias, and modern forms of racism in schools. The district will focus on developing a cultural proficiency vision in the year to come.

Pillar 4, social and emotional wellbeing, is reflected in the budget through instructional materials (PATHS—SEL curriculum for preK-4), professional development, staffing and stipend positions (new social worker position), and district technology services/licenses (Go Guardian Raptor Emergency Management System).

Pillar 5, technology use and implementation, is reflected in the budget through district technology services/licenses (Smart Board replacements/upgrades and the BMS Music Lab), staffing (School Technology specialist and Integrated Technology specialist), and professional development (Google Workplace for Educators).

The School Committee’s budget presentation demonstrated just how conscious they are of ensuring that the budget plans align with the vision statement.

“At the heart of it all is academic excellence,” said Marano. The district must also consider other areas, such as electricity usage and transportation (for both in-district and out-of-district students). Some ways in which the district is able to offset costs is through grant funding. The district has received (or will be receiving) a total of $1.8 million in COVID-19 grant funds to offset the additional costs brought on by the pandemic (such as PPE, technology/remote learning devices, additional staffing needs). The district also receives grant funds (unrelated to COVID-19) for improvements, supplemental resources, and academic expansion (Project Lead the Way). The amount from these types of grant funds totals $1.1 million. Additionally, the district is able to offset the budget with their revolving accounts, such as funds received for Circuit Breaker (funds from the State specifically for Special Education purposes), School Lunch, School Choice (tuition received from school choice students) and Summer School tuition (received from students attending summer programs).

Areas of variation from FY21 to FY22 include decreases in out-of-district tuitions and new positions, and increases in collective bargaining agreements and Special Education costs. The district still anticipates creating several new positions for the upcoming year. In addition to the social work position, the FY22 budget plan also creates positions for an LPN, academic tutors, and several teaching and interventionist openings. A full list of open positions will be posted by the district.

The proposed budget for FY22 is $27.8 million. This funding comes from both the town of Bellingham’s required contribution and the Chapter 70 Program (state aid).
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