An Update from the School Committee
February 7, 2023
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An Update from the School Committee…..
The Watertown School Committee met on Monday for our February meeting.
Before the meeting, our negotiating team sat down with the Watertown Educators Association as we continue to work on a new contract. We remain committed to providing our outstanding educators with a fair and competitive agreement. We thank the members of both negotiating teams for their dedication and for their professionalism, and we will continue to negotiate in good faith towards an agreement that serves our teachers, our town, and supports our students and families. We appreciate the members of the community who spoke during our public comment period to express their views on the negotiations.
This meeting also brought sobering budget news, as we face a projected budget shortfall of nearly $900,000 for the 2023/2024 academic year to keep level services (in other words, to fund every position, program, and service that is paid for in the 2022/2023 budget). This is due, in large part, to general inflation, a 14% state mandated increase in out of district placement costs, and increased transportation costs. This will mark a significant challenge in the coming months. We are fully committed to exploring every avenue possible to cover this funding gap so that our programs and services for students remain strong.
We also received an update on the status of the turf field at Victory Field. Athletic Director Ryan Murphy explained that our current synthetic turf, which was installed 12 years ago, has reached the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced. The decision to fund the replacement project and install new turf ultimately lies with the City, but the School Committee voted to recommend replacing the turf in a 6-0 vote (with one member voting present). A Q&A about this project can be found here.
Construction of the modular high school continues at Moxley Field, in preparation for opening in the fall. Meanwhile, the renovation of the Lowell Elementary School remains on track to be completed this summer. We are excited to welcome students back to Lowell in September.
The next School Committee meeting will be Monday March 6 at 7:00 PM. The dates for all 2022/2023 School Committee meetings can be found here. Agenda information and supporting documents can be found here.
Chair, Watertown School Committee