HANOVER — Preliminary assessment figures released by South Shore Tech during a School Committee public hearing on the fiscal 2020 budget show Hanson’s assessment likely to be $1,006,520 — up $9,167 or .92 percent — and Whitman’s $1,604,997 or 3.1 percent — up $48,293 — from the current budget year.
The assessment increases are lower than they might have been due to a proportional share of a $321,531 jump in non-resident tuition, according to Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey.
“We consider that to be a revenue source,” he said. “We tell the towns, as we plan for next year’s budget, making the assumption that this money comes in, we’re going to use it to offset the budget.”
Those funds, collected on a quarterly basis, and deposited into an account for the following year’s expenses. Hickey said that, without the non-resident tuition funds, the assessments would have been “a million dollars higher across the eight towns.
“We would be bringing forth a budget that has a 3.4 percent overall increase, yet the total amount of dollars that we are assessing the communities would be $92,444 less [than fiscal 2019], Hickey said at the Wednesday, Jan. 23 SSVT School Committee budget hearing. “Does enrollment play a role? Yes. Is it a clean formula? We know that it’s not.”
State Chapter 70 aid is expected to increase by $105,547 along with increases in non-resident tuition and regional transportation reimbursement up by $80,000 — or 70 percent of transportation costs, according to preliminary figures from the governor’s budget posted that day.
“The assumptions that are being made in these numbers are, first that the governor’s Chapter 70 number would be used,” Hickey said, adding that the non-resident tuition number has remained the same as earlier estimates. “We can make projections for each town
Only Abington and Hanover, among the district’s eight member towns, can expect to see reductions in assessments, which are linked to enrollment.
“The news worth sharing this evening is, based on the governor’s budget proposal from earlier this afternoon, we would realize an increase of Chapter 70 aid in the vicinity of about $100,000,” Hickey said. “I would take that, while it’s preliminary, [as] good news.”
The highest increases are in Rockland, up 4.54 percent, and Cohasset at a 4.5-percent hike.
Whitman Selectman Dan Salvucci, who is the town’s representative to the SSVT School Committee, said he presents per-pupil costs based on the assessment divided by the number of students at Town Meeting, as well as the capital costs for building projects that are also included in the town’s assessment.
“These are preliminary assessments,” Salvucci said. “When is the hard number being reached?”
Hickey said it would be likely an action number at the February meeting.
“We know this is going to be the beginning of a four or five-month conversation,” he said.
In other business, Assistant Principal Sandra Baldner presented an update on co-op education and college acceptances of SST students.
There are currently 58 seniors employed in co-op programs, having logged 10,794.02 hours logged and an average hourly wage of $13.22 for total combined wages of $142,725.52 as of Jan. 23.
About 15-20 juniors are working at jobs that could lead to co-op placements by Feb. 4, with more than 60 more expressing interest in finding placements soon, according to Baldner.
About 50 employers include fuel companies, electricians, auto mechanics, lumber yards, towing companies, auto body shops, tire shops, HVAC companies, bakeries and retail food outlets, health care firms and municipalities, among others.
The horticulture program does not yet have juniors and seniors so they will not yet be placed in co-operative work.
“I noticed that some of our graduates from years ago will be hiring students, as well,” said School Committee member Robert Molla of Norwell.
So far, 18 students — nine females and nine males in nine programs — have already received 41 acceptance letters from 29 colleges or universities, 14 in Massachusetts.
“We are only in January,” she said. “There’s a long way to go.”
Salvucci suggested that business cards be made up for school staff and committee members to leave with companies that are hiring.
“A lot of times I’ll see “Help Wanted” [signs] and I’ll talk to the manager who says they’re looking for someone for the kitchen or whatever and I would give them my South Shore Vo-Tech card,” he said. “I’m thinking maybe we should have cards with a number to go to the direct office for co-op students printed up so we could give them out … and get more seniors out there working.”
School officials said that could be done.
“We know people,” Hickey said of the graphic arts shop.
One of the priorities of Vocational Coordinator Keith Boyle is co-op placement, Baldner said, adding his information could be included on the cards.
When she updates the college acceptances later in the spring, Baldner said she will also include information on students going straight to work after graduation.
“I’d like that to be an equal celebration to students going on to college,” she said.
Hanover Committee member Robert Heywood asked if students going on to college are staying within their shop subject or going in different directions. Baldner did not have specific data beyond saying that some do and some don’t.
“I started in wood technology and ended up in law enforcement, so life takes you in different directions,” Heywood said. “I was just curious, walking out this door, where were they going?”
Hickey also wants to continue asking college-bound students to what extent the school prepared them, especially if there was something students might feel the school did not do.
“In the years we’ve asked that question, I haven’t had anybody say anything sizeable in terms of the experiences or the content, which is good,” Hickey said. “We just have to keep asking that question.”