Westfield School Budget Includes $50K for Police Officer at WHS
Officer would be stationed at the high school but could move among district's schools.
The Westfield Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt the $96 million preliminary budget for the 2013-2014 school year at its public meeting Tuesday evening.
Among the reallocations that have occurred since the budget was last presented on Feb. 19 is the appropriation of $50,000 for a School Resource Officer. Business administrator Dana Sullivan explained that this represents half the cost of putting a police officer at the high school. The other half would be borne by the Town of Westfield. While that officer would be stationed mainly at Westfield High School, he or she would have the ability to move throughout the district's elementary and intermediate schools as well.
"Over the last few months the district has been communicating with the police department and representatives from the town to determine the appropriateness/feasibility of placing a Student Resource Officer (SRO) in the district," explained Dr. Michael Weissman, a member of the District's Emergency Management Team, in an email to Patch. "As Ms. Sullivan mentioned last night, the district is still working on this with the town and all the details have not yet been worked out."
Weissman added that he would be happy to provide an update as more information becomes available.
Other reallocations include guidance restructuring at WHS in the amount of $77,000. Sullivan also pointed out a reduction in salaries amounting to $219,230 as the district received notification of nine retirements within the last two to three weeks.
The Athletics Department would also received $12,000 to pay for two hockey coaches, previously funded by parents. Increased time for an assistant trainer accounts for $8,000. Board member Mitch Slater said this will be particularly beneficial in cases of simultaneous events where injuries, including concussions, may occur.
Other budget highlights include:
- Tax levy increase is below State adjusted CAP by $479,294
- Continues funding for literacy initiative
- Continues funding for technology initiative
- Continues funding for STEM program
- Continues funding for mandated programs
- Maintains curricular and co-curricular programs
- Maintains existing class size guidelines.
- Provides sufficient resources for enrollment increases at intermediate level
- Maintenance of facilities
- Increased support for counseling services
Sullivan also pointed out that Westfield Public Schools' cost per pupil comes in at $11,666, below the state average of $13,290.
Before the Board approved the preliminary budget, Finance Committee member Mark Friedman read a statement in which he thanked residents for their support and acknowledged that it is the taxpayers who "will fund approximately 92 percent of this budget."
"Each year we have to make difficult choices as we cannot fund everything that we would like to do," Friedman said. "There are obviously limited resources that we have available. School districts face the same rising costs that we all face in our own homes."
He added that the Board works hard at "making every dollar count ... but we all remain singularly focused on doing more with less."
"We believe that we are delivering to the Board tonight a solid budget, one that will maintain a tradition of excellence in education in Westfield yet stops far short of asking for everything that we want to fund next year," he said.
Ann Cary and Lucy Biegler were absent from the meeting.
The preliminary budget presentation for 2013-2014 will be available on the district's website.
The Board will meet next at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19 at 302 Elm St. for a public hearing on the budget. A second public hearing will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 21 in the high school's auditorium prior to the budget's adoption. All are invited to attend.