HANOVER — South Shore Tech officials have unveiled a $14,682,668 fiscal 2022 budget — and increase of $276,477, or 1.89 percent — representing a higher level of in-district enrollment along with a reduction in non-resident tuition, which will otherwise lead to a revenue shortfall of nearly $150,00.
No changes, meanwhile are projected in regional transportation reimbursement.
The district’s School Committee heard Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey’s fiscal 2022 budget presentation during its Wednesday, Dec. 16 meeting. SST uses a zero-based budgeting process to create spending plans. The final budget figures are not expected before the Wednesday, Jan. 27 meeting — the day Gov. Charlie Baker releases his budget. The budget certification vote has been slated for Wednesday, Feb.17.
Principal Mark Aubrey said there have been 206 applications an increase for the towns of Abington and Hanover and flat in all other towns except Hanson, where they are lower. The school usually sees about 300 applications at about this time, but because of COVID, Aubrey said the admissions officer has not been able to get into schools.
Assessments, based on minimum local contributions, capital, transportation and other costs above the minimum local contributions as well as debt service are calculated into the local assessments.
“The department heads did a wonderful job prioritizing and knowing this is a lean year that we would expect on the state level, and also on the local level as dollars are spread through educational and non-educational departments in each of our towns,” Hickey said.
The school district continues to control costs by long-range planning, use of grants to cover costs for technical equipment and personnel, industry donations and in-house talent.
Whitman School Committee member Dan Salvucci asked if COVID costs would continue to be included in the 2022 budget.
“One of the grants we have does have a longer [COVID-related] shelf life, which is good news,” Hickey said. “That has been on my mind, but I think by-and-large with the additional personnel and resources we have, I’m not adding substantial dollars for COVID expenses.”
He began with a celebration of accomplishments over fiscal 2021.
“Normally, I would have a long, bulleted list, [but] I can summarize it here in an obvious way, that from March 13 — almost a year, now — we have learned so much about teaching and learning in a pandemic,” Hickey said. “I couldn’t be happier with the efforts that our kids and our families and our staff are making.”
Looking to the future and goals for “the other side” of the pandemic, Hickey said the plan is to focus on pre-COVID priorities, some of which have been impacted by COVID-19:
• focusing on high-needs and economically disadvantaged subgroups who need to score proficient on MCAS;
• expanding social emotional learning initiatives while reconnecting with the school community;
focusing on larger capital projects in the facilities master plan and submitting a statement of interest to MSBA; while
• improving attendance and participation in the school’s breakfast program.
Hickey also envisions some teaching and support personnel additions, including an English language learner instructor, horticulture aide and part-time nurse support. These additions are expected to cost $76,660.
Capital requests in the budget include $35,000 for parking space expansion, $760,00 for a window and roof replacement project and $100,000 for partial design funds for master plan projects.