275 Prospect Street, PO Box 67, Norwood, MA 02062
781.762.6804 Phone | 781.762.0229 Fax

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Frequently Asked Questions About Budget

Budget Overview FAQ's

Costs and Efficiencies FAQ's

Changes in the Past 10 Years FAQ's

New Middle School Proposal FAQ's

Other Sources of Funding FAQ's

 

Budget Overview FAQ's

How are our schools funded?
The schools are funded from a variety of sources.  The largest contribution comes from the town appropriation.  This money that Town Meeting allocates comes from property and excise taxes, fees such as building permits, profits from Norwood Light Broadband and Water & Sewer, as well as money from the State.  The schools also receive money from the Federal government, Circuit Breaker money from the State as reimbursement for some out-of-district special education expenses, and grant money.  A small portion of the budget is supported by rental income and student fees.  Click on this link for a flow chart of where the money comes from.

Why is there a budget problem?
The town has been facing a structural deficit.  Our costs have been increasing faster than our revenues for a number of years.   This problem was discussed at Town Meeting in May 2018.  In response, the Town-Wide Budget Balancing Committee met starting in June to develop 5-year projections for both school and general government budgets. Click on this link for the Town Meeting presentation.

Why is the budget gap suddenly so much larger this year?  
The town has been using Free Cash (unexpended money from previous fiscal years) to balance the budget each year.  For FY19 (the current school year), the town made use of more than $1.2 million in Free Cash to support the operating budget.  Additional Free Cash was used to pay for Snow & Ice expenses from FY18 and some capital expenses.  This year, there is significantly less Free Cash available, so none of this money is available to support the operating budget.

When will the budget for the 2019-2020 school year be set?
 The annual budget process begins in January and continues through Town Meeting in May.  This year, the process will not be finalized until Monday, June 3, 2019 when there is a town-wide referendum on an override. Click on this link for a budget timeline.

What is an “Override”?
An Override refers to a vote by the registered voters in town to override the tax increase limit set by Proposition 2 ½.  On Monday, June 3, 2019, there will be a referendum to determine if the total tax levy limit may be increased by $5.95 million.  If the override passes, the town, including Schools and General Government, will implement a plan to insure that the budget will be stabilized for a period of at least five years. Click on this link for more information about Proposition 2 1/2  and the tax rate process.

Would an override be a one-year fix?
No.  The Town-Wide Budget Balancing Committee has worked to project the budget over a 5 year period, and the Committee has made the recommendation for a $5.95 million dollar override because this amount will be enough to meet the needs of the town for at least 5 years.

Would the override impact all taxpayers?
The override would increase the levy limit for property taxes.  The Board of Selectmen has the authority to set the residential and commercial tax rates, but it is expected that both the residential and commercial rates would increase by similar amounts.
 

Costs and Efficiencies FAQ's

How much do we pay our teachers?  How does that compare to other districts?
Click on this link for a presentation on the analysis of teacher salaries.

In what ways are the Schools limiting expenses?
Norwood Public Schools review costs carefully and are continually looking for efficiencies.  For example, we belong to TEC, The Educational Cooperative.  Through TEC, we are able to take advantage of lower-cost, quality programs for some of our students and also reduce costs for various supplies purchased through their negotiated pricing program.

Changes in the Past 10 Years FAQ's

How has school enrollment changed over the past 10 years?
In general, the total enrollment in Norwood Public Schools has been quite stable over the last 10 years.  However, there have been changes in the makeup of our students.  Since the 2009-2010 school year, the total number of students has decreased by 1.5%, but the number of Special Education students has increased by 15%.  The number of English Language Learners has more than doubled in the same time period. 

How has staffing changed over the past 10 years?  
The total number of people employed by the Schools as measured by full-time equivalents (FTE’s) has increased as the school population has changed.  Click on this link for the Superintendent's presentation on the analysis of school staffing.

Middle School FAQ's

Is it true that Norwood needs a new middle school?
In 2017, the Town conducted a Long Range Building Study which evaluated the condition and use of each school building other than the high school.  This study, conducted by Ai3 Architects, concluded that the Coakley Middle School is overcrowded, inefficient, and does not meet the educational needs of our students.  Norwood filed a Statement of Interest with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to start the process of studying the feasibility of a new school within the MSBA program.  On December 12, 2018, the MSBA voted to invite Norwood to participate in the eligibility period.  This phase will officially start in May 2019.  Click on this link to more information about the Norwood Public Schools long-range building study.

When will the town need to vote on a new middle school?
Norwood will be officially entering the eligibility period with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) in May 2019.  The town will be asked to vote in the fall of 2019 for approximately $1.5 million for a feasibility study and schematic design.  That design work would be completed in 2020, so the town could be asked to vote for funds to build the school as early as spring of 2021.  Construction could start as early as spring of 2022, with completion of the project expected in time for the 2025-2026 school year.  Click on this link for a proposed timeline on the approval and construction of a new Norwood Middle School.

Other Sources of Funding FAQ's

Changes to the State’s formula for supporting education have been in the news.  Could this solve the problem?
 State money for each school district is based on the Foundation Budget that the State calculates for each district.  The Foundation Budget is based on the enrollment figures from the previous school year, and it represents a minimum amount of money that would be required to educate that group of students.  Many have acknowledged that the formula, created in 1993, does not accurately reflect current costs.  The State Legislature has considered changes to the formula, but no changes have yet been voted into law.  It is likely that any increase in funding would happen over a number of years.  Click on this link for more information on the Governor's proposal.

How much money do we receive from the State to support education?
The State supports public school districts with Chapter 70 money.  In addition, there is Circuit Breaker money which reimburses the Schools for some out-of-district special education costs. 
Click on this link for more information on Chapter 70 money.
Click on this link for more information on Circuit Breaker money.

Can the Norwood Public Schools apply for grants?
The Schools make use of grants wherever possible.  In fact, in the current school year, more than 20 full-time equivalent positions (FTE’s) are funded by grants.  The Schools will continue to actively pursue this option, but we are not eligible for enough grants to eliminate the deficit.

What fees are currently charged to students?
The Food Service program and Extended Day program are self-funding, meaning that their costs are covered with student fees (and some Federal money for the Food Service program).  Other programs are partially funded by student fees.  Students who are not eligible for free busing according to state law pay $300/year for a bus pass.  High school athletes pay $200/season with an annual family cap of $800.  For Fine Arts, there is an activity fee of $150/year for the extra-curricular programs.  As required by state law, preschool students with special needs are enrolled in the preschool program free of charge.  Peer model students who attend the program pay tuition of $2250 - $6000 per year, depending on which program the student attends.