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LYNN — Superintendent Dr. Patrick Tutwiler has proposed a $180.7 million budget for the fiscal year 2022 (FY22) — an increase of more than $10 million compared to last year.
Tutwiler said the budget was developed with contextual understanding and reflects “deep alignment with the district’s core values, mission and vision.”
The schools received an increase of more than $14 million in Chapter 70 funds for FY22.
During the 2019-20 school year, the district engaged in a broad-based effort to solicit input and understand needs for the budget through a process required by the Student Opportunity Act (SOA), but this SOA funding was delayed due to the pandemic.
In the FY22 budget, state funding represents the first of a seven-year commitment of the SOA, addressing longtime issues in the district.
According to Tutwiler, the district has also leveraged Federal grant funding and savings from the unique school structure during the pandemic, so purchases were made in technology infrastructure, devices and peripherals, as well as upgrades to heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
The district’s SOA plan focuses on increasing personnel and services to support holistic student needs; inclusions and co-teaching for students with disabilities and English learners; increased staffing to expand student access to enrichment and strategic planning to enable common planning for teachers; and facility improvements to create healthier and safer school environments.
In regards to increasing personnel, the budget lists focusing on tier one supports that align with social work caseloads, with the National Association of Social Workers recommending one social worker for every 250 students.
The district also plans to improve special education support by increasing staff to ensure the needs of student’s Individualized Education Plans are met and caseloads are decreased to allow for more personalized attention.
For English learners, Tutwiler said the district will build upon the existing inclusion model by increasing staff, ultimately decreasing the student to English as a Second language teacher ratio. The district is opening two dual language kindergarten classrooms in the fall.
The district also plans to add “technology” as a course offering for all elementary students.
Tutwiler said “the district is taking a significant step forward with achieving benchmarks set forth in the SOA plan.”
“Further, given the level of uncertainty around the true impact of the pandemic, the focus of staffing additions will prepare the district to respond more robustly to student needs as we learn more about the impact,” Tutwiler said.
The proposed budget also features staffing additions that will allow for reduced class sizes and the expansion to art and music in elementary schools and the Lynn Vocational Technical Institute.
The budget features parent liaisons at each school, the addition of IT professionals, and maintaining non-personnel or supply loans at the per pupil levels.
“In total, the proposed FY22 budget embraces the Student Opportunity Act Plan developed in partnerships with many stakeholders in the community and approved by the school committee,” Tutwiler said. “With the notable increase in staffing in special education, mental health and other critical realms, it will also support the district’s attempt to promote stability and acceleration of learning in the 2021-22 school year and beyond.”
Allysha Dunnigan can be reached at email@example.com