Important Budget Goings On – Don’t Sleep Through ‘Em!

Just a heads up, y’all, that there are a slew of important budget meetings looming, starting this Tuesday evening, January 11, when School Superintendent, Dr. Entwistle will present the proposed FY 2012 budget to the School Committee. This meeting is in the Community Room at Chenery Middle School and will be the public’s first look at the budget for next year. From what I’ve heard, this is a “make the best of a bad situation” budget with some sobering numbers.

The big problem is that those of us who care about preserving Belmont’s tradition of quality public education is that we’re going to have to fight even to get _this_ budget passed, as the Board of Selectmen and Warrant Committee seem in the mood to play hardball with numbers. As Dr. Entwistle told The Patch recently, the target budget – or Available Revenue budget – set out by the Warrant Committee in November – around $40,565,000 — isn’t adequate to support the core mission of the Belmont Public Schools.

“People need to pay attention to what the budget process is now,” Entwistle told Patch in an interview last week. “The Available Revenue budget will not sufficiently supply what we need to give our students,” Entwistle stated.

This week brings two important meetings: Tuesday’s meeting in which Entwistle will formally present the Available Funds Budget to the School Committee. On Wednesday, January 12, Dr. Entwistle will present the Available Funds budget and a separate Level Service budget to the Warrant Committee. The Level Service budget is basically the amount of money that will be needed to preserve the “level of service” in the school system for 2012 as we offered in 2011 and its likely to be larger than the Available Funds budget. (And remember, here, 2011 already brought with it significant cuts, including the end of district sponsored Freshmen athletics, the closure of elementary school libraries and staff and administrative layoffs at almost every level.) Its critical that B2 readers attend one or both of these meetings. I’m definitely going to attend the Jan 12 meeting to show my support for the Level Service budget, but both meetings are important.

Some other dates worth noting:
Jan 11, Tues, 7:30 pm @ Chenery Middle School Community Room (CMS) – Initial budget presentation to School Committee.
Jan 12, Wed, 7:30 pm @ Chenery Middle School Community Room (CMS) – Budget presentation to Warrant Committee
Jan 18, Tues, 7:30 pm @ CMS, budget update to School Committee
(Tentative) Feb 8, Tues, 7:30 pm, budget Q&A discussion with public
(Tentative) Feb 10, Thur, 9:00 am, budget Q&A discussion with public
Feb 15, Tues, 7:30 pm, @ CMS, budget update to School Committee
(Tentative) Mar 5, Sat – all day budget workshop
Mar 15, Tues, 7:30 pm – budget public hearing