By ADAM SWIFT
PEABODY — It was a night of hard choices and lots of math for the School Committee this week as they made the final decisions on the 2017-18 school year budget.
A public hearing on the nearly $71.9 million school budget is scheduled for Tuesday, June 6 at 7:30 p.m.
At the most recent budget hearing Tuesday night, the committee added back several positions that had been cut from the budget initially presented by Interim Superintendent Herb Levine earlier this month. Those additions were the result of several cuts recommended by Levine, as well as an additional $108,000 added back into the budget by Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr.
“This is one of the hardest times we have when we are weighing one position versus another,” said School Committee member Brandi Carpenter.
Earlier this month, Levine presented a budget of close to $70 million for Fiscal Year 2018. To meet that number, the superintendent proposed cutting about 15 teaching positions from the schools, nearly half of which would have come through retirement or vacancies.
But Bettencourt added an additional $1.5 million into the budget, and last week, the School Committee made use of those funds to bring back a handful of teaching positions, primarily at the elementary levels, including a third grade teacher at the Center School and physical education and health department heads at the elementary and secondary levels.
Committee members also added back about $50,000 in funds for supplies and textbooks that Levine had recommended cutting from the budget to help make up a potential shortfall.
“Many of our teachers are already spending so much out of their pockets every year for supplies,” said committee member Joseph Amico.
As School Committee member Jarrod Hochman made the majority of motions regarding the final trimming of the budget, he said they were all made with one goal in mind.
“We have the most value by having teachers in front of the students,” he said. “These are hard decisions, but they are worth it if we can put a teacher back in front of students at the Carroll or Center School.”