Back in time to March 27, 1992

Photo by Spenser Hasak

A lot of ink has been spilled in recent weeks regarding the drastic cuts made to the Marblehead Public Schools fiscal year 2024 budget (including in this very paper). Should a proposed override not pass, the district would be forced to eliminate 33 positions and, as a result, a number of key services such as freshman sports would fall away.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the district has been in a position where the dollars don’t add up the way they need to.

A Daily Evening Item story from March 27, 1992 — more than three decades ago — chronicled a marathon four-hour meeting in which the School Committee axed more than $138,000 (more than $296,000, adjusted for inflation) from its FY93 budget, but adjourned without cutting another $103,000 (roughly $221,000 today) to get down to a level-funded amount.

That night, despite initially rejecting a proposal to do so, committee members handed control of the final round of cuts to Superintendent of Schools James Kent. Committee member Stephen Quigley argued that doing so was a dereliction of duty.

“We are an elected body. It is unfair to put this on the superintendent. We have got to prove to the taxpayers that we can make these cuts,” he is quoted as saying.

When the meeting began, committee members were tasked with trimming $160,000 from Kent’s $12.28 million request. They then added $70,500 to the budget based on a request by parents for an additional teacher at the Coffin School, a school nurse/health educator, health textbooks, and school furniture.

A number of other requests — including an additional teacher at the Bell School — were ultimately rejected by the committee.

Quigley led the charge on making cuts to the budget, which were based on research he did, The Item attributes him as saying. Ultimately, the approved cuts included two teaching positions at the high school, a school bus, and a reduction in the amount paid to a consultant, among others.

Now, in 2023, voters are set to determine the fate of 33 jobs across the district when they vote on a $2.5 million override at Town Meeting and, should it pass there, again at the annual election in June. The School Committee has pressed forward with two budget proposals — one for reduced services totaling $44.8 million, and a level-service proposal totaling $45.9 million.