LYNN — Superintendent of Schools Dr. Patrick Tutwiler has proposed a $207.3 million budget for fiscal year 2023, which represents a $25.6 million increase over last year’s spending.
Tutwiler said the “historic” budget increase is due to the influx of state aid Lynn Public Schools is receiving from the Student Opportunity Act (SOA).
The city’s school district is expected to receive an increase of $28.68 million in Chapter 70 funds for FY23, Tutwiler said.
“State funding in FY23 represents the second of a seven-year commitment of the SOA to address long-standing issues in school districts like the Lynn Public Schools, with an updated funding formula,” said Tutwiler. “This increase is historic for our district.”
In his budget presentation to the School Committee last Thursday, Tutwiler said many educators and committee members have wondered whether these SOA funds would come to fruition — the funding had been delayed due to the pandemic — and how this significant increase in state aid would translate into initiatives that support student growth.
“There are five more years of Student Opportunity Act increases,” he said. “Who knows what will happen in the future, but the first two years of funding create the possibility for transformational change in our district.”
How the district has chosen to use these additional funds in FY22 and FY23 was determined by the district’s SOA plan, which was adopted by the School Committee in January 2021.
This SOA plan, which aligns with objectives outlined in the district strategic plan, focuses on directing funds to four priority areas: increased personnel and services to support holistic student needs; increased supports for students with disabilities and English-language learners; increased staffing to support students and teachers at the elementary level; and facilities improvements to create safe school environments.
The increase in Chapter 70 funds will allow the district to fully implement the first three priorities in the FY23 budget, Tutwiler said. The staffing additions proposed in this year’s budget not only position the district to offer more robust supports and services to students, but they also honor the community input collected over the past three years and move the district closer to meeting its strategic objectives, he said.
More than 200 new positions would be funded in the FY23 budget. Ninety-three percent of these positions would provide direct services to students, Tutwiler said.
The budget would allow the district to add 15 social workers, 14 clinical supervisors, and an assistant director of social-emotional learning, which would allow it to meet its clinical model of staffing one clinician per every 250 students, he said.
“This is the national recommendation,” said Tutwiler. “It also positions us to be far more successful in meeting the needs of all students, but also students with disabilities who have counseling in their individualized education plan. Clearly, this is part and parcel of a robust effort to meet the social and emotional needs of every student and family.”
Other key staffing additions include 25 English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers, a language-assessment manager, and language-assessment specialist to better meet the needs of English-language learners. Eighteen new positions at the elementary level are geared toward deepening students’ skill sets in areas of needs, such as technology, art and music. These elementary positions are also aimed at providing teachers more opportunity to increase their common planning time, Tutwiler said.
New leadership positions include four elementary program specialists, an early childhood principal for special education, and a vice principal at Thurgood Marshall Middle School.
Tutwiler said the FY23 budget increases access to mental-health supports for all students, provides more personalized support for students with disabilities through reduced caseloads, maintains or reduces class sizes where possible, increases access to the arts, and creates a new Early College High School on the North Shore Community College campus.
“I’m excited about what this budget proposal can do for our students and staff next year and beyond,” said Tutwiler. “It reflects significant movement forward and honors the input of our community.”
A public hearing for the budget will be held on June 9 at 6 p.m., prior to the start of the regular School Committee meeting.