Brendan Fitzpatrick

April 9, 2024

School Committee Requests $172.6M Budget for Upcoming Year

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FRAMINGHAM - The Framingham School Committee has unanimously approved a $172.6 million budget request for the city’s school system during the 2025 fiscal year.

The $172,609,620 budget approved by the committee represents a $7,816,038 raise, or 4.74%, from the FY24 budget of $164,793,582. That’s $1 million higher than the budget that Mayor Charlie Sisitsky was looking to present to the City Council, according to Executive Director of Finance and Operations for Framingham Public Schools (FPS) Lincoln Lynch during the School Committee’s meeting at the Memorial Building on Wednesday, April 3.

During that meeting, Sisitsky said that all parties involved in the process have to work in tandem to find common ground on a proposal.

“I want to work with (the School Committee), I want to support the schools to the best of my ability and to the best ability of the community,” Sisitsky continued.

“Somehow, we’ll get this done.”

Sisitsky mentioned his support for raising the local property tax levy in order to fund the city’s budget, though he added that he’s gotten “some pushback” on that front.

The vote was preceded by weeks of conversations regarding changes to the school budget proposal. The school budget request previously stood at around $176.1 million in mid-March. Around $86 million in state aid will be provided to the city’s schools in FY25, according to the March 12 presentation offered by Lynch. However, that’s only about $943,000 higher than what was provided in Section 70 aid in FY24, meaning that school officials have looked at making cuts in order to bridge the gap brought on by a small increase in state resources.

FPS Superintendent Dr. Robert Tremblay previously outlined efforts to reduce expenses within the school district’s Central Office. Lynch mentioned on March 20 that cuts within the Central Office of about $1.1 million in addition to the $760,000 saved by leveling budgets for most school departments—meaning that those departments will get the same amount of money in the FY25 budget that they received in FY24—brought the budget to $174,257,206. Special education and transportation operations were exempt from the budget leveling decision.

In order to get closer to Sisitsky’s number of $171.6 million, Lynch recommended reducing the district’s transportation budget by an additional $1.1 million during Wednesday’s meeting. He explained their data shows that they have not “spent to the limit” of their contract with NRT Bus, Inc. for school transportation amid the ongoing bus driver shortage, meaning that Framingham would not have to budget for the full 77 bus drivers that the agreement with the bus vendor calls for.

Lynch proposed deducting an additional $500,000 for homeless transportation with the caveat that the state would most likely be able to step in and provide reimbursements in order to ensure that those services are not hindered—a motion that members of the School Committee agreed with.

All of those recent subtractions—the Central Office cuts, leveling most departments’ funding, and the reductions in transportation—left the School Committee’s request at the $172.6 million mark. Committee members like Chair Jessica Barnhill of District 8 told Sisitsky that they were not willing to recommend any further reductions.

“We’ve looked at this from so many different angles,” Barnhill said.

“When it comes down to it, we’re here for the kids. That’s what we signed up for, and I am not comfortable going any lower than ($172.6 million).”

Sisitsky has until May 1 to present the budget for FY25 to the City Council.

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