HANOVER — South Shore Tech Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey provided a budget update on Wednesday, Jan. 27, in light of the effect of the updated governor’s budget on the district’s fiscal 2022 spending plan.
The overall budget reflected a 1.89-percent increase from the current budget, according to Hickey, who said the governor’s package provides insight on how assessments to member towns will be affected.
The School Committee held its public hearing on the fiscal 2022 budget, with no comments received from the public.
“The ink is not even dry,” Hickey said of the governor’s budget package.
Assessments break down — with the assumption of nearly level-funded Chapter 70 funding, regional transportation and a stabilization transfer for the district’s bus lease as anticipated revenue — as: Abington lower by $3,552 to $1,286,561; Cohasset lower by $17,648 to $127,071; Hanover increased by $158,280 to $886,330; Hanson increased $98,371 to $1,233,791; Norwell increased $49,569 to $521,660; Rockland increased $125 to $1,833,991; Scituate lower by $14,647 to $576,166 and Whitman increased by $36,855 to $1,660,531.
“Overall, we’re looking for $8,026,101 from our local towns,” Treasurer and Secretary James Coughlin said, explaining that the budget is based on towns’ minimum local contribution as calculated by the state. He explained that town assessments have been going down in previous years because of a large enrollment of non-resident students, while resident town enrollment was lower. Tuition for non-resident students is set by the state.
That trend is reversed this year.
“The towns that are getting the hardest hit, Hanover and Hanson, had the biggest increase in students,” he said.
Hickey said he has reached out to all member communities to set up budget meetings in mid-February or March.
Hickey also sought debt authorization for capital projects to address needs in the facilities master plan that are beyond what students can do, or can be fit into the fiscal 2022 budget, and smaller projects that can be phased into future capital budgets if the district does not receive MSBA funding.
“Window projects, which is the signature capital item in this year’s proposed budget — something that’s in the facilities master plan — we would expect to cover the costs for that as part of a fiscal ’22 expenditure,” he said. “The rationale that we will be bringing to our towns [is] … that we’re now at the point that there are capital projects we simply cannot sustain within the capital budget.”
The window project is $760,000 of an $895,000 capital budget.
“We all feel, on some level, the math just wouldn’t work if all of a sudden we tried to shoehorn in $2 million of capital in one year to do a roof or do something with fire suppression,” Hickey said. Funding for renovation and expansion could also be included in the debt authorization to meet needs for extra space for larger shops, and to do so whether or not the district received MSBA funds. The project list can be reevaluated if state funding is received.
Hickey also said SST is one of 30 schools, of 71 applying for MSBA funding for school building or renovation projects to be selected for review and to supply more information on their proposal.
He cautioned, however, that it does not necessarily signal that the district will receive funding this year.
“They go out of their way to make it clear that, the fact that they would like to talk to us in a little more depth, does not mean that we’re going to be getting a note in a few months saying, ‘You’re invited into the program,’” he said. Hickey had been invited to a meeting because SST had not been invited to provide the information for a few years.
Hickey also said SST’s admissions process is late this year, because area communities’ schools started a little late for eighth-graders considering a vocational education this year. Mid-year report cards, therefore are coming out later.