Westford’s school superintendent is urging residents to come
out to Town Meeting on Saturday to support two articles dealing with school
funding issues – the department’s budget for next year and the school window
Everett Olsen, the Superintendent of Schools for Westford, sent the email at just before 2 p.m. on March 20, and encouraged voters to attend and vote to support the school system, especially in light of an effort last year to cut the school’s budget.
“Last year a voter at town meeting proposed a motion to reduce our 2013-2014 school system budget by over $500,000,” he wrote. “The motion to reduce our budget last year was based on the perception of a voter that we are spending too much money to educate students in Westford. Fortunately this motion was defeated, but only by 38 votes! If the motion had not been defeated it would have meant significant staff and program reductions.”
Olsen also worried that "a similar motion (or a greater reduction amount) could be proposed again this year."
Olsen offered information about per-pupil spending and stated that the students were accomplishing a lot. The system is requesting a 4 percent, $2.2 million budget increase for fiscal 2015.
Town Meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 22, at the Abbot School gymnasium.
The full text of the email is below:
If you are a registered voter I am encouraging you to attend the Annual Town Meeting this Saturday. Voters will be deciding on the funding level for our school department budget next year, as well as the appropriation of funds for new windows at the Day and Robinson Schools. Westford has an open town meeting and any registered voter is allowed to participate. Last year a voter at town meeting proposed a motion to reduce our 2013-2014 school system budget by over $500,000. The motion to reduce our budget last year was based on the perception of a voter that we are spending too much money to educate students in Westford. Fortunately this motion was defeated, but only by 38 votes! If the motion had not been defeated it would have meant significant staff and program reductions. Please keep in mind that a similar motion (or a greater reduction amount) could be proposed again this year. It is very important for me to inform you that the latest Department of Education data shows that out of over 300 school systems in Massachusetts, only 40 school systems spend less per pupil to educate students than Westford!
There are two Articles of great significance to our school system: Article 11 (Day and Robinson Window Replacement) and Article 16 (Annual Operating Budget). I am encouraging you to attend for the discussion and vote of these two Articles. Some residents watch the broadcast of town meeting from home and come to the meeting around the time that a particular Article of interest is discussed and voted on.
Listed below is some factual information for your review. I am proud that our student achievement is ranked among the highest in the state given the fact that our cost to educate each student in Westford is among the lowest in the state.
Superintendent of Schools
Westford Public Schools Information:
Cost Per Pupil to Educate Students in Westford (FY 2013): $11,789 State Average: $14,000
Boston Magazine (2013) ranked Westford Public Schools as the 8th best school system out of 147 school systems in Greater Boston! The FY 2013 Per Pupil Expenditures of Boston Magazine's Top 10 School Systems are listed below: (Please note that these Per Pupil Expenditure figures are from the Massachusetts Department of Education)
Lexington $16726 (FY 2012)
Enrollments: Although our Kindergarten-Grade 2 enrollments are declining, our 2014 -2015 school year K-12 enrollment will once again be in excess of 5,000 students
Achievement: Our student achievement levels are among the highest in the state. Please review our MCAS Data (spring 2013 test), along with a list of student and staff accomplishments at http://www.westfordk12.us/pages/super/accomplishments
FY 2015 New Budget Requests: For the 2014-2015 school year we have requested $228,500 for additional staff. Of this amount, $191,000 is staffing for Special Education and English Language Learners (students whose primary language is not English); The remaining $37,500 is for increased grade 9-12 enrollment and program needs at Westford Academy.
Window Projects (Article 11): Our request is to replace the original windows at the Robinson and Day Schools. These are single glazed windows in deteriorating condition. The Massachusetts School Building Authority will provide 45.95% reimbursement to Westford for the costs of these projects.
Everett V. Olsen, Jr.
Westford Public Schools
23 Depot Street
Westford, MA 01886