Pentucket Regional School Board Approves 2022-2023 Budget, Shares Information on Discounts and Additional Fees

For immediate release

WEST NEWBURY – Superintendent Justin Bartholomew and the Pentucket Regional School Board want to share an update on the district’s 2022-2023 budget and the impact it will have on students, staff and faculty.

The school committee unanimously approved a budget of $47,846,000 for the upcoming school year on Tuesday, May 9. The committee had requested $1.34 million in additional spending to cover a persistent structural gap between state funding and the actual cost of services.

The district requested increased funding through a waiver of Proposition 2½, which voters in Groveland and Merrimac did not approve.

To close a $1.34 million gap, the school board approved cuts recommended by Superintendent Bartholomew:

Overheads ($528,364)

  • Reduce HS/MS supplies, $45,864
  • Stop Paying for Field Trips in Grades 6 and 7, $28,000
  • Reduce paraeducator positions by two, $40,000
  • Reduce sports teams to two men’s teams and two women’s teams per sport, $25,000
  • Terminate a percussion contract, $24,500
  • Not hiring a human resources manager, $115,000
  • Reducing the number of special education teachers from six to four, $120,000
  • Do not hire Tech Repair or Tech Theater support, $85,000
  • Eliminate special education coordinator days during the summer, $45,000

Fee increase ($325,950)

  • Increase fees for before and after school programs by $50 per semester, or $110 for both semesters, $160,000 (estimate)
  • Double the athletic fees in effect for the 2020-2021 school year and eliminate the family cap, for the 2022-2023 school year only, $105,950 (Students who are in economic difficulty would still be eligible for a waiver.)
  • Eliminate a bus line, $60,000

Staff reductions ($485,686)

  • Abolition of a nursing post
  • Eliminate 1.2 English positions (middle-high school)
  • Abolition of a mathematics teacher post (college-high school)
  • Abolition of a science teaching post (college-high school)
  • Abolition of a teaching post in visual arts (college-high school)
  • Eliminate a .7 performing arts teaching position (middle-high school)
  • Abolition of a teaching position in physical education / well-being (middle-high school)
  • Reduce Primary School Art Teacher Position by Page from 1.0 to 0.6
  • No library/media assistant at Bagnall Primary School
  • Elimination of an elementary teaching position at Bagnall Elementary School and Sweetsir Elementary School

“None of this is fair. None of this is good, but this is where we are,” Superintendent Bartholomew said.

The increased fees and staff reductions have been spread across the district, while trying to protect elementary classrooms where developing health, wellness and interpersonal skills is especially critical.

Committee members agree with the recommendation not to request a smaller variance. A second waiver would mean more teachers would receive notice of possible non-renewal on Friday and create great uncertainty across the district come July.

The spending gap is due to a series of factors, including a significant decrease in state funding:

  • Student transportation costs will increase by more than $500,000 next year. The state is not meeting its obligation to fully fund regional school transportation and is actually cutting Pentucket’s allocation by $144,000 next year.
  • Pentucket will only receive $67,500 in additional Chapter 70 money.
  • As the state promotes its $1.5 billion student opportunity law, the district will only receive $58,000 from the law next year.

Superintendent Bartholomew and Committee Chairman Christopher Markuns of Merrimac recommended that residents and city officials begin working together immediately to find funding solutions for the 2023-24 budget.

“The state is swimming in extra money and we’re cutting $1.34 million,” Superintendent Bartholomew said. “The funding formula is not working.”

To view Superintendent Bartholomew’s presentation to the School Committee, click here.