Our kickoff meeting in September was well attended be the community. We now have 35 volunteers who are willing to devote their time and expertise to the SOS committee. A total of 8 subcommittees have formed to support a variety of efforts to increase funding to our schools. If you would like to help please come to our next meeting.

Our next meeting is Monday, October 15. We have added meetings on November 5, December 3 and January 7th. All of the meetings are at 7:30 pm at the Community House.

Below you will find information on some of the numbers which drive our school budget and some of the suggested action plans to try to address our serious and sustained budget issues. In addition, school buildings need repairs (see the Hamilton Wenham Chronicle for a recent article), and we need to address the accreditation issues at the high school. Community support will be an important factor in ensuring the quality of education that our children receive.

Overview of Hamilton Wenham Regional School Budget Issues Major Budget Drivers:

  • Special Education
    • Hamilton Wenham Reg. School District percentages of Special Education students are the same or lower than other comparable school districts.
  • Retirement Expenses (non teachers)
  • Health Insurance (60/40 insurance split)
  • Utility Costs
  • Salaries
    • Our teachers are in the middle or lower salary range to comparable towns.

Cost to Educate Student (Most recent data is 2005, Department of Education data)

  • Statewide average=$9,096
  • Hamilton-Wenham=$9,029
  • Special Education Average Cost=$15,000

Cost for Families with Multiple kids:

  • 1Child $9,029
  • 2Children=$18,058
  • 3Children=$27,087
  • 4Children=$36,116

Average Tax Revenue Generation Per Family (2007 data from Hamilton and Wenham Town Hall)

  • Hamilton Median Home Value=$544,200
  • Average Hamilton Tax Contribution=$7,308
  • Wenham Median home Value=$546,700
  • Average Wenham Tax Contribution=$7,079

Additional Issues Unique to Hamilton Wenham:

  • Minimal revenue from commercial taxes due to lack of development and several business are non taxable(30% of our land is tax exempt)
  • Gordon Conwell Seminary
  • Limited Chapter 70 funding despite state mandates
    • State funding has decreased from 19% in 2001 to 13% in 2008, because the amount of revenue the state takes in has dropped due to a decline in the economy and in investment income.
    • The Chapter 70 formula was established in 1993 (it’s outdated) and is hurtful to affluent communities because it is based on property values and income levels.

School Department and Town Government Long and Short Term Solutions/Action Plan:

  • Better education to the HW Community of the structural budget crisis issues. Better communication of school system needs to support long range strategic plan and of revenue deficits.
  • Get more people involved early in budget creation process.
  • Educate voters of importance of a strong public school system
    • Civic responsibility
    • History of strong schools
    • Real estate values
  • Demonstrate to elected officials the strong community support of a strong school system by having active and broad involvement in the budget process.
  • Demonstrate to elected officials community support of a strong school system by having high turnout at town meetings and elections and having a high passage rate of overrides
  • Address structural budget problems by fully exploring:
    • Economic Development (Selectman)
    • PILOT programs (Payment in Lieu Of Taxes)
      • Gordon College, Gordon Conwell Seminary, Pingree School
      • Lobbying for aid increases (Selectman and School District)
      • State and Federal funding of unfunded mandates (Selectman and School District)

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