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Lynn superintendent sets sights on goals with $159.3 million school budget plan

LYNN — Superintendent Dr. Patrick Tutwiler told the City Council Budget Committee Tuesday evening the Lynn Public Schools fiscal year 2020 budget has not been finalized or approved, but school officials are working from an allotment of $159.3 million.

The projected budget, which represents the largest allotment to a city department, is expected to be finalized on May 30 and would be a 7.25 percent increase over last year’s amount. The budget allows Lynn Public Schools to maintain its existing staff and meet all of its contractual obligations, including teacher step increases, according to Tutwiler.

Tutwiler said the budget allows him to meet some of his district improvement goals, such as addressing overcrowding at the middle school level, getting closer to state compliance with meeting the needs of English language learners and students on Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and implementing a social-emotional learning program for grades K-5.

He said the school department will be using their budget to address the “ever-growing” student population. Tutwiler didn’t have exact figures for how many new students enrolled in the district since the beginning of the school year, but estimated it was approaching 500, which includes 239 new students from January until two weeks ago.

Although the state Senate Ways and Means Committee has proposed a budget that would allocate an additional $18.15 million in Chapter 70 funding, the major program of state aid to public schools, to Lynn in FY2020, Tutwiler said the schools are operating under Gov. Charlie Baker’s state budget numbers that were proposed earlier in the year, which would provide for an increase of $15.1 million in state aid. The increase is due to a proposed revamp of the outdated foundation budget formula.

Tutwiler was one of several department heads to report on their respective budgets in the second night of hearings for the proposed $367.93 million FY20 budget, which will be presented to the full City Council by Mayor Thomas M. McGee next Tuesday.

“I’m looking forward to working together to get through this budget and get it approved before July 1 and that’s the goal,” McGee told the Item following Tuesday’s meeting.

Last week, Chief Financial Officer Michael Bertino told the City Council the city budget was balanced, but doesn’t account for potential raises from about a dozen unions that are still in contract negotiations with the city. If there were to be a 1 percent raise, that would result in an increase of $550,000, he said.

When asked if there was concern around a potential increase from collective bargaining, McGee said that will be discussed next week when the budget is presented to the council.

“The budget is presented and I think that was made clear,” McGee said. “The budget’s been presented based on what we have today and what the parameters are today, and so that was the basis of the budget on the current state of affairs in the city. We were able to get to a balanced budget based on a lot of hard work that went on to get to that point. So, we’ll get a chance to talk with the full committee and we’ll talk about it next week.”

Other budgets presented on Tuesday included the Inspectional Services Department and Department of Public Works.

Michael Donovan, ISD chief, said his department’s budget includes a $1.5 million increase in its facilities budget on the school side, which will allow ISD to work toward improving conditions in the schools “as best as we can.”

Donovan said his budget doesn’t include overtime for the city’s only animal control, or dog officer, which falls under the purview of ISD. The lack of an overtime budget has led to the inability to assist the public or the police department after hours, according to a summary of the ISD budget.

Donovan said only emergency situations, such as life-threatening or out-of-control situations, would lead to overtime being allowed for the animal control officer.

Andrew Hall, DPW commissioner, said the major change in his department’s budget this year is a $215,000 increase in its snow and ice budget, which has historically been underfunded in years past. Anticipated Chapter 90 funds, state aid for infrastructure and roadwork improvements, is about $1.5 million, a slight decrease from last year, he said.

 

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