School Committee Approves $51.7 Million Budget

Reading, MA — After four weeks of discussion and by a 6-0 vote, the School Committee approved the Superintendent’s Recommended Fiscal Year 2023 Budget of $51,783,363 on Thursday. Chair Thomas Wise explained that this budget includes using $1.1 million from the revolving fund to subsidize a reduction in the tuition for full-day kindergarten from $4,450 to $3,600. This reduction is part of a plan to ultimately offer universal full-day kindergarten at no cost to parents by FY 2026. After Finance Committee member Jeanne Borawski questioned the committee regarding the plan’s sustainability, Wise committed to working with the Finance Committee, the Select Board, and the Town Manager to determine how the goal will be achieved. 

In his report regarding a recent meeting of the Coalition for Prevention and Support at which the number of mental health referrals in town was discussed, School Committee member Chuck Robinson commented, “I realize how important the new [mental health] positions we added are . . . it is a well-crafted budget by the administration.” The Finance Committee is scheduled to review the approved budget on March 2.

Activitas project architect Steven Crisafulli shared an update regarding the replacement of the stadium field. Requests for bids on the project will be sent out in early February, with the project expected to begin mid-April. According to Crisafulli, the project includes a new track, a new turf field, a scoreboard replacement, landscape improvements, and a new fence. The plan is also to retrofit the lights with LED fixtures. The $3 million needed for the project has already been approved by Town Meeting. RMHS Assistant Principal for Activities, Clubs, and Athletic Thomas Zaya shared that the spring teams will use facilities at Austin Preparatory School as well as facilities at neighboring schools for meets and games.

The School Committee appointed Chuck Robinson to represent them on a joint management committee to review salaries for district cafeteria workers. The joint management committee will present its recommendations to the School Committee by the end of April. By a vote of 6-0, the School Committee also approved the District School Calendar for the 2022-2023 school year.

The School Committee adjourned at 8:50 pm.

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