The Hamilton-Wenham Regional School Committee has approved a budget that maintains level services for the 2016-2017 school year.

Final approval of the budget is the responsibility of voters at town meeting — which will be held in both towns on Saturday, April 2. Please plan to attend and show your support for our schools.

As part of the budget process, the School Committee and the Finance and Advisory Committees from both towns reviewed the current budget as well as benchmarking data from the prior four years. Here’s what the data showed:

* HWRSD staff decreased by same rate as enrollment decreased.

HWRSD enrollment has decreased by an average of 1.23% between 2011 and 2015.  In response, the district administration is projecting an average decrease in staff (FTE) of 1.20%. The administration reviews all school programs and services on an ongoing basis to right-size them with the district needs and student enrollment.

* HWRSD operating expenses increased by an average of 1.11% over a 4-year period.

The school district’s operating budget has grown at a modest rate in recent years. From the 2013-14 school year to the proposed budget for the 2016-17 school year, the budget will have increased by an average of only 1.11% per year.  Additionally, over this time the district managed to return over $4M in free cash to the two towns.

* HWRSD per-pupil costs increased at a rate that is half of the state average.

Statewide, the average per-pupil cost has risen by 2.20% over the past four years; by contrast, the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District’s per-pupil cost has increased by half that — at an average of 1.10%. All while HWRSD continues to be recognized as one of the top districts not just statewide but in the nation (search on Hamilton-Wenham).

* The bottom line…

When you attend your local town meeting on April 2, you can be confident in voting for a budget that is fiscally and educationally responsible.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 2, 2016. See you there, and thanks for all you do.

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