At their meeting Thursday night the Walpole School Committee approved a FY '14 tentative budget of $37,819,946.
Superintendent Lincoln Lynch recommended the amount, which is an increase of $1,288,211 from FY ’13, approximately 4-percent.
"I am very confident in a $37,819,946 [budget] providing excellent educational opportunities for our students, covering our state mandates and having the potential to possibly redirect revenues within personnel to improve some of our services at the elementary level, our class sizes at the middle school and the art situation at the high school and the guidance situation at the high school. I feel that we’ll be able to accomplish all of that," said Lynch.
Lynch told the committee that Gov. Deval Patrick announced his state aid education budget this week and there was an increase for Walpole schools of about $600,000.
"The town administrator and I had several discussions about this and that’s only part one of the state budget, part two is the House budget, part three is the Senate budget and then it comes full circle and the governor has to sign the budget in late June,” he said.
Lynch said that the projected budget came in $355,000 above Town Administrator Michael Boynton's original revenue projections for the district.
"So we have a ways to go before we close that gap with new revenues," he said.
Lynch added that he is optimistic they will be able to close that gap before the Spring Annual Town Meeting in May.
Lynch said the committee would have opportunities to change and adjust the budget before Town Meeting “based on either improving or declining revenue or other impacts in the school budget.”
Committee chair Nancy Gallivan said that it is almost certain that the budget number will change before all is said and done.
“As revenue and expenses mature, we will change this. It won’t stay at exactly this number, but this is a good number reflective of our budget hearings and what we know at this time,” Gallivan said.
Lynch said there is a positive outlook for FY '14.
“It’s a very optimistic year. I think when you hear the town administrator’s presentation to the town you’ll find his outlook is optimistic for the town of Walpole and I think we’ve weathered the recession very well especially with the enormous help of the community supporting the override,” said Lynch.
“I’m pleased to be able to recommend this amount for a tentative budget,” he said.
The committee voted unanimously to approve the tentative budget Thursday night.