Superintendent Brand Proposes 2.75% Increase In School Budget For Next Fiscal Year: No New Positions; Counting On Most Students Who Left District To Return

WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand presented his preliminary budget for Fiscal Year 2022 (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022) at last week’s School Committee Meeting.

The budget calls for an overall 2.75% increase, from $43.7 million to $44.9 million. The salary portion of the budget will increase by 3.31%, from $34.4 million to $35.5 million. The non-salary portion of the budget calls will be nearly level-funded, with a just a 0.70% increase, from $9,318,630 to $9,383,492.

“To be quite honest, with the exception of the inclusion of some monies towards supporting some strategic planning efforts and initiatives, this budget plan is really maintaining what we have in place,” stressed Brand.

“By all accounts, FY22 is going to be a tough year,” added Assistant Superintendent Paul Ruggiero, noting revenue taken in by both the state and town are down due to COVID-19. “FY22 is probably going to be a very difficult, tough year. I think the Superintendent did a great job in bringing a budget that is realistic as it can be given those parameters. The increases have been kept to a manageable level. Our non-salary total is essentially flat.”

The budget will NOT include any new staffing positions.

“The FY22 preliminary budget supports 487.90 FTEs (Full Time Equivalencies) in comparison to the 489.60 FTEs in the current FY21 budget,” noted Brand. “The town, like all towns, is going to be facing some significant financial challenges with the result of the pandemic.”

Brand stressed that the district is predicting that the vast majority of students whose families opted for private schools or home schools for this school year will return in the fall. Projected enrollment is 3,133 PreK-Grade 12 students, including 784 high school students and 754 middle school students.

By the 2025-2026 school year, Brand noted that the district’s enrollment is expected to naturally decline to the point where there are just 695 high school students and 706 middle school students.

Brand will also be requesting $507,000 in capital requests, including $200,000 in elementary projector replacements; $90,000 towards the middle school switch replacement project; $70,000 to upgrade a PA system; $68,000 to replace computers in high school lab; $34,000 for SPED mini vans; $30,000 for server replacement; and $15,000 for miscellaneous computer replacements.

Brand and Ruggiero met with Town Manager Jeff Hull on Friday, December 18, 2020 to discuss the budget proposal. Brand and his team will refine it and present the district’s FY20 recommended budget on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.

“The town has always been great to the schools from a support standpoint,” noted Ruggiero. “We’re hoping the final number will be right around [the currently proposed] 2.75% increase. If we go to 2.75% to 2.5%, as an example, there are areas we can look at and kind of fine tune, but to go a lot lower than that winds up being somewhat problematic.”

“There’s not a lot in this budget that we’re going to be able to eliminate and not impact our services,” warned Brand.

Town Manager Jeff Hull will make his annual budget presentation on Monday, January 25, 2021. The School Committee will hold its annual budget hearing on February 10, 2021, after which it will vote to support the budget. The Finance Committee will then review the school budget at a public meeting, followed later by a public hearing. Ultimately, residents will vote on the budget at the 2021 Annual Town Meeting in the spring of 2021.

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