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Newton school budget likely to fuel override debate

Posted by Ralph Ranalli March 5, 2007 02:45 PM

Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Young
(Globe staff photo by Suzanne Kreiter)


Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Young this morning unveiled a proposed budget for the 2007-2008 school year that contains no cuts, restores programs, and is $4.8 million more than Mayor David B. Cohen has proposed allotting for the schools.

Based on expected revenues, Cohen said he was giving the schools a 4.8 percent budget increase for next year. Young, however, said that the school system needs a 7.3 increase just to keep pace with rising fixed costs like health care and with an expected enrollment increase of 231 students. Young's budget proposes an 8 percent increase of just under $11.6 million.

The School Committee directed Young to prepare the no-cuts budget three weeks ago, after members said that the system could not maintain educational quality while sustaining cuts for the fifth year in a row. The $155.5 million budget, which Young will present to the committee tonight, is certain to fuel further discussion of a possible property tax override.

Young said he has hope that the citizens of Newton will support his budget.

"I think that we as a city need to look in the mirror and decide who we want to be," he said at a press conference this morning. "We're deluding ourselves if we think we can have it all without paying for it."

Most of the increase in Young's budget would go to maintain current programs and class sizes. But Young also said he wants to restore 15 minutes of art and 30 minutes of music education at the elementary level and add about $1 million of new initiatives in the areas of math, technology and building maintenance.

The School Committee will begin discussions of the budget on Wednesday night and will hold a public hearing on Thursday, March 22.

-- Ralph Ranalli

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