Opinion: Mattapoisett School Committee urges budget support

May 3, 2022

To the editor: It is critical for the residents and voters of Mattapoisett to understand the incredibly important FY23 Mattapoisett Elementary Schools Budget that has been recommended by the Mattapoisett School Committee. 

Overall, the Mattapoisett Elementary Schools Budget represents a modest increase for next school year. The proposal is a level service budget that aims to maintain the current resources available to students and families and does not include recommendations for any new positions or programming.

To decrease current resources from the school budget will only prove to be counterproductive to the School Department’s efforts to meet the educational needs of all our learners. Investing in our schools is more important than ever before to maintain the academic excellence our schools are known for.

If the proposed budget is not approved at the upcoming Town Meeting on May 9th the School Department will have no choice but to lay off teachers and support staff to balance the budget. As a result our class sizes could increase, electives (i.e. art, music, technology) may become more limited, and special education and student service supports would be negatively impacted.

The recent vote held by the Mattapoisett Finance Committee to not support the proposed budget is not only disappointing, but disheartening. Each year the Mattapoisett School Committee facilitates a thorough budget development process that is open to the general public and involves ongoing communication with the town administrator, Finance Committee, and Select Board. 

Four budget sub-committee meetings were held in accordance with open meeting laws leading to the public budget hearing that was held on April 4, 2022. In addition, the School Department met with the Mattapoisett Finance Committee and Select Board to discuss the proposed school budget, hear feedback, and answer any questions. 

Throughout the budget development process documentation was shared with town officials including a line item budget, class size data, and other supporting documentation. All these efforts are made in the spirit of collaboration and to ensure the budget development process is comprehensive and transparent not only to town officials, but also the community at large.

The Mattapoisett School Committee also believes it is important to address certain topics that have been discussed at recent finance committee meetings. First, no school administrator’s salary increase has been determined for the upcoming fiscal year and no school administrator received more than a 3% salary increase in the current fiscal year. 

Second, the building administration will remain a two-person team with one school administrator overseeing the day-to-day operations at Center and Old Hammondtown schools. 

Lastly, the current number of school choice students enrolled in the Mattapoisett elementary schools does not impact the number of teachers needed. In other words, the current number of school choice students does not influence the current staffing needs at Center or Old Hammondtown schools, but does generate additional revenue per state reimbursement rates.

Successful schools are a symbol of successful communities. The residents and voters of Mattapoisett have long supported their elementary schools and should be proud of this commitment. Our school department strives to responsibly and effectively maximize available resources to offer high quality educational experience to our Mattapoisett children.

Due to the incredible work of our teachers and support staff, the Mattapoisett elementary schools are routinely recognized for their academic excellence and inclusive philosophy. We urge the voters of Mattapoisett to prevent the cutting of staffing positions and reduction of programming by supporting the school budget at the upcoming Town Meeting on May 9 as recommended to ensure that our students receive the educational experience they deserve.

The Mattapoisett Annual Town Meeting is being held at 6:30 p.m. at the Old Rochester Regional High School auditorium on May 9.

The Mattapoisett School Committee

Karin Barrows

Carole Clifford

Carly Lavin, vice chairperson

James Muse, chairperson

Tiffini Reedy