The following is the Annual Message that I have shared with member towns to be incorporated into their annual reports for the current year:
Dear Residents of Holden, Paxton, Princeton, Rutland and Sterling,
The 2015-2016 school year in the Wachusett Regional School District has been productive and groundbreaking. Our year has been productive because with the passage of a school budget in late fall, the District had the ability to add several key positions to assist our students and teachers in the educational process. I want to thank all of our communities for making education a priority and supporting a budget that will help our children become well prepared to be successful in our globally competitive world. This year has also been groundbreaking because of the progress being made on the new Mountview Middle School, with construction moving along at a fast clip and completion of the new school on Shrewsbury Street anticipated to be sometime before this coming summer.
An item that will be at the forefront of our work this spring will be the development of the WRSD Strategic Plan. Our school district is well poised to provide a visionary strategic plan that will take us into the next five years of learning in all schools. We are committed to a collaborative, open planning process in which feedback and discussions are vital components of synthesizing our unified goals. A community-wide survey and a series of focus groups with all stakeholders will help to inform the strategic planning process. I am confident that this process will improve our district and strengthen our community while providing an outline for budget priorities over the next several years.
This year, as we begin to work on the FY17 WRSD budget, I have held two Budget Roundtables open to all Member Towns, in order to discuss budget issues for both FY16 and FY17. The conversations have been candid and worthwhile, with various town representatives sharing their own concerns about the upcoming budget process. The more conversations that we participate in as a whole school district, the more we all understand that many of the funding issues associated with the District are because of the funding formula at the state level. The issue still remains that the formula will not be fixed in the near future and we are still responsible for providing our children with a strong educational experience.
Each budget that we have presented over the past several years has been fiscally sound and educationally driven. In the past three years, our budget increases have all been under 2.5%. By remaining fiscally frugal, our per pupil expenditure remains a little over $11,000 per student, which is well under all other school districts that border WRSD Member Towns. We must continue to work together to assess what our schools need to provide the children of the Wachusett Regional School District the necessary skills for success.
Thank you for your continued support of our students, faculty and staff of the WRSD.