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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Meeting on School Committee Budget

Dear friends,

The School Committee's public hearing on the budget will be held on Wednesday, May 23rd at 7 PM in the Somerville High School library. Anyone who wishes to will have two or three minutes to express their views regarding next year's (FY 2013) school budget or related issues. The meeting will begin with a presentation by the Superintendent of his recommended budget.

You can find some budget documents on the Somerville Public Schools website, here, under Finance and Facilities:

The two most relevant documents that I would encourage you to look at are a one-page overview summary of the FY 2013 budget request prepared for the Board of Aldermen (BOA Handout) and the two-page Superintendent's budget summary which have the main changes, highlights and new programs proposed for the coming year. Other documents will be available at the public hearing and will be put on the Somerville Public Schools website afterward.

There is also a good overview article about the school budget and budget process on the front page of this week's Somerville Journal which gives you a sense of the bigger picture. (Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the story on-line on their website, but I will email the Editor and ask him to put it up.)

If you are unable to attend the public hearing, or do not wish to speak in public, and you want to comment, I encourage you to email me and the School Committee. You can send an email to the entire School Committee by going to: 

Once the Superintendent has presented his recommended budget, the School Committee may vote changes and is responsible for approving a school budget for consideration by the Board of Aldermen and the Mayor. The School Committee will have at least one meeting after the public hearing to consider your input and make changes to make the Superintendent's recommended budget.

The School Committee has reviewed four draft budgets to date and we have had a significant impact in shaping the Superintendent's recommendations. I am enthusiastic about much of what is in this year's Superintendent's recommended budget. It calls for a 6% increase, which will allow the SPS to undertake some major initiatives for which I have advocated for many years. Here are some highlights:

-- Spanish language instruction in 7th and 8th grades

-- A part-time parent/guardian outreach coordinator at each school and more support for the Somerville Family Learning Collaborative
-- A part-time school-based volunteer coordinator at each school and more support for the volunteer coordinator position

-- Additional funds to increase the number of students who receive after-school tutoring from 500 to 800

-- 10 additional teachers and paraprofessionals for English Language Learner instruction

-- About $40,000 to continue to support the Healey School unification process and to implement the Healey School Council's plan for service learning and arts integration in the curriculum

-- Implementation of the "El Sistema" music program (after school) at the East Somerville Community School (for 3rd and 4th grades), with three part-time music instructors.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Mark Niedergang

Somerville School Committee, Ward 5

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