Setting the tone for a fiscal budget presentation that emphasized balancing fiscal discipline and continued district achievement through difficult decisions, Westford Public School superintendent Bill Olsen says he will forego a bonus for the next Fiscal Year.
The announcement came during Monday night’s School Committee meeting “open forum” agenda item, shortly after School Committee chairwoman Angela Harkness announced the a tentative end to the drawn out teachers’ contract negotiations, which goes to a vote of the union that will be likely be announced later this week.
Olsen closed his open forum remarks by addressing the possible contract resolution as well as rumors that he would be getting more money, which he sought to address and dispel as inaccurate.
“I just want to explain to the public that I do not have a pay increase this year because everyone else doesn’t have a pay increase,” he said. “In my contract I have a bonus clause that would pay me up to $4,000 for accomplishing goals, and I’ve told the School Committee I will not accept that this year. It’s a tough year for everybody, and I want to follow that with everyone else.”
His announcement came shortly before he gave an overview of the requested $47,611,283 that will go before voters at Town Meeting on March 24 as part of the town’s proposed overall Fiscal Year 2013 Operating Budget.
During the presentation, he addressed concerns on issues like why additional full time positions were being added, which was explained as coming mainly from the need to maintain Special Education positions required by federal mandates that would no longer be funded by state and federal programs such as Ed Jobs grants.
Ultimately, Olsen noted that the total operating budget of the school actually came to $50,408,219, with the balance not appropriated from taxpayers arriving through a variety of fees and aid such as the state’s “Circuit Breaker” funding.
While the presentation indicated that cuts and savings, such as staff member Gail Anselmatti’s ideas to save the district nearly $250,000, had brought a per pupil cost ratio that was over $2,000 less than the state average and would likely be 40th to the bottom among the state’s school districts, he stated Westford may face difficult choices if the fiscal status quo does not change.
“We’re getting to the point where we will need additional revenue sources to continue providing the level of services our residents expect,” he said.
As the proposed budget had already been recommended by the School Committee, no motion followed the presentation.