We have had an eventful 2017-2018 school year thus far. Over the past several months, the District has continued to make progress toward the goals of the the Wachusett Regional School District (WRSD) Strategic Plan. Our school district remains one of the strongest in Central Massachusetts and we continue to create educational programming for our students that will prepare them for their future endeavors.
The WRSD Strategic Plan provides the Wachusett community with a sense of purpose as we define priorities and set budgets. Each school has developed a School Improvement Plan that ties directly back to the Strategic Plan and will help define budget priorities at both the building and the District levels. Goals that have been set by administrators and teachers will have common themes connected to the five learning domains, enabling our five-town district to pursue common educational outcomes. We have focused on many areas including technology, improved instructional support, social emotional learning, and more.
In early November, District and Member Town officials held the annual Budget Roundtable meeting, which is an opportunity to discuss budget issues associated with the upcoming fiscal year. As in year’s past, the meeting was well attended by town representatives as well as officials from the state. An important area of focus during the discussion was the recent report completed by the State Auditor’s Office concerning the funding issues facing regional school districts throughout Massachusetts. Our district was one of those highlighted in that report. Working together as a unified community, our five towns and the District have made a commitment to advocate for 100% reimbursement for regional transportation by lobbying our representatives to support our request. Grassroots organizations and our teachers union have been vocal in their support of more state funding for all regional school districts. Insufficient funding at the state level remains a significant cause of the budget woes we have faced and continues to be an area of concern for both local and state officials. As state funding continues to decline, we are even more dependent upon our local tax base to support our educational endeavors. The District will continue to work with all stakeholders to advocate for the recommendations made not only by the State Auditor but also the Chapter 70 Foundation Budget Review Commission. We ask all members of the Wachusett community to join in these efforts to ease the financial burden placed on both schools and towns.
Last year, the five towns that comprise the District funded a budget that allowed us to increase support for our students. We look forward to continuing the progress made this past year as we create a budget that further supports our Strategic Plan.
The current budget request for FY19 is aligned with the WRSD Strategic Plan as we focus on areas such as early literacy, science, professional development, and student health and wellness. Budget increases are primarily due to contractual obligations, new positions, increases in out-of-District tuitions, increased funding for technology and instructional support, and increased utility costs.
For FY19, we are requesting a budget of $94,209,452 which is an increase of $3,831,072 or 4.24% from FY18.