By LEAH DEARBORN
MARBLEHEAD — The 2018 fiscal year budget for the Marblehead Public Schools saw a 5.1 percent increase from last year.
At a public hearing Thursday in the L.H. Coffin Elementary School , Superintendent Maryann Perry said most of the additional cost came from contractual increases across all grades.
Textbook and curriculum renewal is a priority, said Perry, as well as continuing to update technology accessible to students and teachers.
She said additional interpretation services were contracted over the past year as the student base in town continues to diversify.
“We want to make sure every child and their family feels welcome here in Marblehead schools,” said Perry.
She said a separate $115,000 was granted by the town finance committee to supplement recent federal cuts to Title I program funding. Title I focuses on narrowing the education gap for at-risk learners.
The hearing was part of the regular School Committee meeting.
Before the budget hearing, the future of the Elbridge Gerry School was discussed. Committee member David Harris said this week kicks off the hiring process for an owner’s project manager to direct the feasibility phase of consolidating the Gerry and Coffin schools.
He said the committee is analyzing an alternate possibility of combining the Gerry, Coffin and Malcom L. Bell schools that would support 450 students, a course Harris described as a means of preparing for the future growth.
The Gerry School Building Committee entered the 270-day eligibility period with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) in March and was given the green light to move forward to the next phase of gathering information.
“They’re right there with you from start to finish,” said Harris about the project manager position.
He said whomever is hired will work hand-in-hand with the building committee and architect in a process the MSBA estimates will take an average of 18-24 months.
The feasibility study is estimated to cost up to $750,000, according to the Marblehead Public Schools website. The MSBA will reimburse the town approximately 32 percent of the study cost.
The first of the public project manager interviews is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. tonight at Marblehead High School. The remaining two will take place on Monday, and a final recommendation will be brought before the committee on April 6.
Leah Dearborn can be reached at [email protected]