Thursday, May 30, 2024

The School Budget De-Mystified


In an effort to take the mystery out of the School Budget, we have attempted to distill the facts for you.

Please walk through this with us. (But if numbers make your head spin, please skip to the summary below!)

What is important to note is that the budget doesn’t include any funds that came from COVID Funding (ARP – ESSER Grant).

In order to meet operating costs, the town used the ESSER funds to meet payroll and benefits. In this way, they limited the Budgeted Increases.

In 2023 to 2024, the schools received grant funding from ARP-ESSER of over $3.2 million dollars for salaries and benefits not reflected in the budget.

So the actual dollars spent were over $128 million, not the $124,902,725 reflected in the actual budget for 2023-24.

The $133 million proposed budget for the coming year would represent a 3.9% actual increase.

So where are the dollars going? The spending does not represent an expansion of staffing or programs, just maintenance of the status quo.

The $8,618,836 increase in funds is actually an increase of about $5 million, after you exclude the ARP (COVID) grants, equating to a 3.9% actual increase in funding.

Of note, the biggest drivers of increased costs are salary, benefits, and special needs funding.

In summary, the actual budgets of the last years do not reflect the actual school spending, since the COVID related grants in 2023-24 alone were over $3.2 million. When we factor this in, the school funding this last year was $128 million. It is clear that funding less than the $133 million dollar proposal will represent less services to our children.


  1. Thanks. This helps but is definitely not crystal clear to me. I’m one of those whose head spins when confronted with financial data.

  2. Thanks. It would be helpful to understand where the budget excess was spent, which created the 2024 “shortfall”.


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