Tuesday night's meeting of the Westfield Board of Education marked the first in a series of discussions regarding the 2013-2014 school budget. While no dollar figures were mentioned, school security could come to the fore moving foward.
Business administrator Dana Sullivan began the presentation by reviewing the district's priorities, listed as follows:
- Literacy initiative
- Professional Development
Sullivan said security could become a bigger priority for the district. Since the December shooting at , superintendent of schools Dr. Margaret Dolan said she and Dr. Michael Weissman, Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Personnel Services and Coordinator of the Emergency Preparedness Committee, has maintained a steady dialogue with the district's Emergency Management Team, which includes town officials as well as Westfield Police Chief David Wayman and Fire Chief Dan Kelly. Noting that she had met with the team that day, Dolan said they are currently considering more than one proposal to makes changes to the entrance to Westfield High School.
While she stated that anything that could be changed quickly has already been implemented, the district is also piloting programs in several buildings to see what is the best solution. Dolan said parents should have already noticed some of these adjustments as they drop off their students. Larger and more costly changes are ones that Dolan said they are still considering.
Board member Ann Cary asked Dolan when and if she would be providing the Board with additional information regarding security changes and their potential cost so they could weigh those factors during budget talks. Cary also asked what kind of changes were being considered: security cameras, a buzzer at the high school's entrance?
Dolan said at the meeting she attended Tuesday, a lively discussion centered around using technology to improve security but noted that everything suggested would not necessarily work for Westfield. But she added that some security improvements have already been made to the high school's entrance.
"One of the other difficulties is, honestly, you don't want to give the details of your security plan," Dolan said. "Part of security is not telling everyone what every detail is of a plan. We have emergency drills and plans in all our schools. While we can do a presentation, if I'm vague, I'll tell you it's intentional."
Dolan said there has been "talk" of Federal funds helping to offset the cost of increasing security. She added that the district would look into seeing if any grants would be available going forward.
Sullivan broke down where funds come from and how they are allocated in the following slides:
Where Does the Money Come From? (Percentages Reflect 2012-2013 School Budget)
- Tax Levy: 88.8%
- State Aid: 4.2%
- Miscellaneous: 3.6%
- Federal Aid: 1.8%
- Balanced Budget Fund: 1.5%
Where Does the Money Go?
- Instruction: 67.4%
- Administration: 8.9%
- Maintenance: 7.8%
- Nurses, Guidance, Librarians: 6.4%
- Debt Service: 3.1%
- Child Study Team: 2.3%
- Transportation: 2.7%
- Athletics: 1.1%
- Co-curricular: 0.2%
- Operations: 0.1%
Sullivan noted numbers could vary widely depending on the amount of state aid offered.
The following are tentative public meeting dates to further budget discussions:Day Date Agenda Tuesday Feb. 19 Public Board Meeting-Budget Discussion/Presentation Thursday Feb. 28 Receipt of State Aid Information Tuesday March 5
Public Board Meeting-Budget Presentation/Discussion Adoption of Tentative BudgetThursday March 7 Budget Due to County Office Tuesday March 19 Public Board Meeting-Budget Presentation/Discussion Tuesday March 21
Special Budget Meeting-Public Hearing on the 2013-2014 Budget
Adoption of the final 2013-2014 Budget