by Steev Riccardo
Webster – Last weekTuesday night the Webster School Committee approved a 5.6% increase in its proposed school budget for the fiscal year 2014, which starts July 1.
The proposed budget of $17,277,204 will now be turned over to Webster Town Administrator John McAuliffe, who will then present it to the Board of Selectman.
The budget is an increase of $923,555 from fiscal year 2013, and includes increases in Special Education, tuition, school choice, salary, and miscellaneous expenditures.
Referring to the budget presentation given by Assistant Superintendent of Schools for Business and Finance Ted Avlas, “A major component to our budget request is due to contractual obligations,” said Superintendent of Schools Barbara Malkas.
The budget includes a cost of living increase built into the school’s contractual obligations for staff and administration and, in addition to that, there are two new requests this year, one for an out-of- district placement coordinator, which is a special education position, and the other for a special education position to support the Webster Middle School STAR program.
Malkas said that the out-of-district placement coordinator is not an uncommon position. “It turns out to be a peace manager for our highest level of need, special education students, who are placed in out-of- district therapeutic settings. The position ends up helping to save the district money over the long term because they will work directly with the students and their families as part of the team process for both transitioning out and back into the district.”
“It’s a way of really providing oversight to those students who would no longer actually be receiving their education in the district, to determine when it is appropriate to bring them back into the district through specialized programs that we offer,” said Malkas.
The second position, for the Webster Middle School STAR program, will deal specifically with students who have diagnoses in social, emotional, and mental health.
“Both of these programs are to look at ways in which we can contain costs with out-of-the-district programs. Right now we are above the state average in Special Education students. We are looking at ways to be more cost effective,” said Malkas.
“By adding this staff person we would be able to expand the number of students that we can serve through the program, which is cheaper than sending them out.”
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