Nauset Officials Discuss Challenges In FY25 Budget Prep

by Ryan Bray
School officials managed to bring the new Nauset Regional High School budget close to an increase of just three percent, but it didn’t come without cuts.  FILE PHOTO School officials managed to bring the new Nauset Regional High School budget close to an increase of just three percent, but it didn’t come without cuts. FILE PHOTO

EASTHAM – School officials have whittled down the new Nauset Regional High School budget to an increase of just under 4 percent from the current fiscal year.

That’s the good news. The bad news is it took significant cuts to get there, a harbinger of what could be expected when the Nauset Regional School Committee unveils the district budget in full March 7.

“I’d just like to say at the outset that this is a tough year,” school committee member Judith Schumacher said during the committee’s Feb. 29 meeting.

The high school budget currently sits at $13,075,888 for fiscal 2025, which represents a 3.8 percent increase from fiscal 2024. But administrators went through multiple rounds of cuts to arrive at the figure, which is closer to the 2.5 to 3 percent increase officials aim to keep budget growth at annually.

Schumacher said the district’s budget and finance subcommittee also worked with administrators at Nauset Regional Middle School to similarly reign in its upcoming budget. The middle school budget was not discussed at the Feb. 29 meeting.

“I just want to say that the budget that we have in front of us now has not come without pain,” she said. “The principals took out their scalpels. We asked them to knowing that the budgets we have control over we have to get control over.”

A large portion of the budget is dedicated to reserves for contract negotiations, said Schumacher, who also noted the new budget cycle comes at the end of the district’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding.

“Your contractual obligations will always, always be more than the 2.5 or 3 percent that is being requested…particularly for the teachers contract that also has steps and lanes,” Nauset School Superintendent Brooke Clenchy said. “Because those steps and lanes are on top of your [cost of living adjustment].”

The high school budget sat at just over $13.5 million in late January, which represented a 7.6 percent, or $950,000, increase. Officials found approximately $463,000 in cuts and budgetary offsets to bring that figure down.

Among the cuts include those through salaries from anticipated teacher retirements and replacements ($195,000), as well as others in substitute teachers ($12,505), textbooks and software ($10,000), instructional equipment ($16,581), contracted psychological services for special education students ($11,500) and “other instructional materials ($30,000). The district also received $75,000 in rural school aid for the coming fiscal year.

The proposed high school budget also includes reductions in custodial services, including $100,000 in salaries and an additional $12,660 cut in custodial supplies. Those cuts raised questions among some school committee members in light of the anticipated opening of the new regional high school in 2025.

“I think if there’s a need for custodians as we bring on part of the new building, it’s really important to treat that building properly,” he said.

The $100,000 in salaries represents two custodians. But committee member Tom Fitzgibbons said the new school will be easier to maintain.

“There’s a little bit of give in that. With the new building, it’s not as intense a maintenance and custodial project as the [current school is],” he said.

Nauset High Principal Patrick Clark said there will be seven custodians at the high school for this coming year and that he is working with the custodial staff on a plan for maintaining the school with the recommended cuts. He also said the hiring of a new groundskeeper for the campus will allow custodians to focus expressly on maintaining the high school building.

“There’s a win there in we can kind of keep people within their zone,” he said.

Regarding textbooks and software, Clark said all high school students have Chromebooks, and that more classwork is being accessed through the laptops than through traditional textbooks.

“One piece that’s different from even just 20 years ago, we generally don’t have students carrying around 50-pound backpacks,” he said.

But the new budget also includes costs that are outside of the district’s control. That includes the cost of transportation. Giovanna Venditti, the district’s finance and operations director, said the need for more bus drivers has led the district to contract with vendors outside of the Cape Cod Collaborative, which provides transportation for Nauset students.

“And those vendors are not cheap,” she told the school committee.

Other costs, such as health insurance, rates for which Venditti said have gone up 8 percent, are also out of the district’s control.

Meanwhile, officials in the district towns of Orleans, Brewster, Eastham and Wellfleet are waiting to see what implications the regional budget will have for their respective shares of the cost. Orleans Town Manager Kim Newman told the town’s select board Feb. 28 that she anticipates an increase between 5.3 and 7.6 percent in the regional budget for fiscal 2025.

“This is the ethic of our community to support education,” Kevin Galligan of the Orleans Select Board said. “But we’re going to need an override if the schools come in at seven point whatever. Because we have nothing here. We’re done.”

Email Ryan Bray at