Rochester's proposed school budget includes 2.9 percent increase

Jan 19, 2018

Educators have proposed a $6.2 million dollar budget for Rochester Memorial School in the upcoming fiscal year—2.9 percent higher than the current budget. The proposed overall cost increase is $179,795.

The budget has not yet been finalized or approved, as members of Rochester's Finance Committee must review the proposal and decide whether the town can handle the financial requests.

At  January 18 meeting of the Rochester School Committee Old Rochester Regional School District Business Administrator Patrick Spencer explained that the increase has to do with tuition for Rochester students attending Bristol County Agricultural High School.

The tuition for each student attending Bristol Aggie must be paid by the district sending the student—in this case, Rochester.

Next year, Spencer estimated that a total of eight students from Rochester will attend Bristol Aggie, at a tuition price of $19,700 per student. That's a total cost of $156,700.

Special education, Spencer added, was a difficult thing to track for the budget.

School districts are required by state law to provide an appropriate education for all special education students. That means bearing the cost if special education students require transportation and tuition for an out-of-town program.

Spencer explained that budget adjustments are made by individual special education cases. "There are some line items that have gone down, in accordance of what we know we have right now."

The total cost of special education in the budget, though, has risen slightly, by 2.5 percent. The largest increase in special education was an 80 percent increase (an additional $36,078) in Project Grow, for moving a paraprofessional to the program.

Budget costs for special education transportation also rose by 34 percent (an additional $39,986) to adjust for the case load the School Committee knows Rochester Memorial will have at the current time.

"It's important to note that the budget, as currently written, is based on what we know right now," said School Committee Chair Tina Rood. "The budget comes data we have in front of us at the time it is written. Sometimes families move away, sometimes people enroll near the beginning of the school year."