At their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, June 27th, the Reading School Committee discussed at length the coming Fiscal Year 2018 budget. Discussion centered around the anticipated $2,000,000 shortfall to maintain level school district services. Every member of the committee expressed concern about the effect this shortfall could have to the school district in Reading. Superintendent John Doherty presented that it would likely mean cutting over thirty positions, many of which would be teachers. According to Doherty, this could lead to larger class sizes and a reduction in programs. School Committee member Chuck Robinson expressed concern over unintended consequences of reduction of programs. “If we have to eliminate special education teachers, this may lead to more out of district placements for students, which ultimately would cost us more,” Robinson commented.
Several areas for potential program expansion were mentioned as well. Superintendent Doherty gave a list of items including Wednesday afternoon classes, more administrative oversight and new teacher retention incentives that could total an additional $1,800,000 annually. “We have been talking about some of these things for over thirteen years.” School Committee member Elaine Webb expressed. The committee continued to talk about the effect to the district if the community does not pass a potential Proposition 2½ override this fall. “Where we are at is not the fault of the community.” Robinson continued. “(The town leadership) have not even asked for (an override) in thirteen years.”
The School Committee will continue to discuss the Fiscal Year 2018 budget at their regular meetings all summer.