School Committee to cut $400G

May 20, 2020 by

Published May 20, 2020


WAKEFIELD — Due to anticipated decreases in revenue from local receipts and state aid, the town expects that it will be necessary to trim about $2.5 million from its FY 2021 budget. Of that, the School Department has been asked to cut $400,000 from its budget.

School Superintendent Douglas Lyons told the School Committee last week that he believes the schools can meet that expectation and that it can be done without significant impact to students and teaching. He said that the goal for the School Department, as it is for the town as a whole, is to maintain positions and personnel.

Lyons said that a cut of $400,000 would amount to a decrease of just under 1 percent of the original FY 2021 School Department budget of $43,976,659. He said that without knowing exactly what will happen in terms of schools re-opening in the fall it would be difficult at this point to say exactly where those cuts will be made.

School Committee member Thomas Markham said that he did not believe it was necessary or prudent for the School Committee to decide at this point where the cuts should be made. He suggested going into Town Meeting next month with a bottom line budget that is $400,000 less than $43,976,659 and then make the difficult decisions around specific cuts later, after more guidance is received from the state, the Department of Education and the federal government.

It was stated that any cuts that are ultimately made in the FY 2021 budget will come before the full School Committee for a vote.

Regarding the current (FY 2020) budget, School Business Administrator Christine Bufagna reviewed the budget numbers through April 30, after one full month of school closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said that the custodial line was running slightly over budget due to overtime that was used to facilitate deep cleaning of the schools. The same was true of custodial supplies, due to the need to purchase more expensive supplies needed for disinfecting.

Bufagna said that the SPED line was also higher but all tuitions to date had been fully encumbered and some out-of-district programs were canceled for the remainder of the year. Bills for those programs will not be coming in and the budget should balance out, she said. (It was stressed that not all out-of-district SPED programs were closed and some are still being offered online.)

Bufagna said that overall, the general fund was looking pretty stable. She said that the administration is keeping a close eye on revolving accounts like the school lunch program and the Doyle Early Childhood Center where there is no revenue coming in but salaries are still being paid.

Bufagna said that refunds are being processed for families that paid fees for sports and other activities as well for Doyle tuitions.

She said that for lines that are going over, budget transfers would be made as part of closing out the fiscal year.

The School Committee voted to accept a gift of $25,000 from the Trachtenberg family. School Superintendent Lyons said that the donation was part of a series of donations from the Trachtenbergs in amounts of $15,000, $25,000 and $25,000 that will allow the school food program to continue to provide meals to students and families over the summer. It will also allow the schools to provide more ChromeBooks to students for remote learning over the summer.

“We are eternally grateful to the Trachtenberg family and Marc Trachtenberg for their generosity and for thinking about the students of the Wakefield public schools,” Lyons said.


Lyons reported that schools are being opened on a staggered basis to allow teachers to get materials for remote learning, SPED services and testing to complete the school year. Next, Lyons said, students and families will be allowed into schools to get any belongings that may still be there. Teachers will also be going back in at some point to close their classrooms for the year.


Plans to complete the fix for the settling problem of the slab under the Galvin Middle School will go forward this summer, Lyons said. The areas of work will include the main foyer, part of the 5th grade wing and the library media center. Phase 1 of the project was done last summer.

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