School officials in Mansfield decided to take a pass on their request for an override this year, at Tuesday’s town meeting, realizing the climate in town just wasn’t right for it.
In late winter, the School Committee had approved a budget that would depend on a $2.9 million override for funding in the upcoming year. Negative reaction from other boards and committees prompted school administrators to reduce the override amount, in the following weeks, to $1.6 million.
As it became clear that public sentiment remained against any increase in taxes in the coming year, Assistant Superintendent Lincoln Lynch said administrators went to work on consolidating, postponing and trimming whatever they could to eliminate the need for a tax hike.
Lynch said administrators were able to secure a commitment from the teachers’ union to scale back raises in the upcoming year, which saved about $400,000. Another $150,000 was saved by eliminating two administrative positions. Other measures included postponing technology and capital purchases, along with the start-up of a k-3 literacy program. Lunch prices will be go up next year, and seniors in good standing will be allowed to come to school late and leave early, freeing up classroom space.
The School Committee asked voters to pass over the article for an override on Tuesday, and Town Meeting approved a $35.5 million package for the schools, which was in line with what the town could afford.
Lynch said school officials will work with the Finance Committee and selectmen, beginning early in the fall, on next year’s budget. “We made it clear to them we are at a tipping point, and would not be able to do this again next year,” Lynch said. “If this trend continues, the school system will go from high-performing to average.”
-- Christine Wallgren