School jobs facing the ax

The Marblehead School Committee has made a $4 million cut in the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) budget. The committee met with Superintendent of Schools John Buckey Monday morning to discuss more budget cuts after Town Administrator Thatcher Keezer said they need to make another $800,000 in cuts.

These cuts are due to the lack of free cash the town has for FY24, which was announced at State of the Town on Feb. 1.

Buckey said that in this process, jobs and programs will be cut. The school union has been given a “heads up” on this situation.

“This is painful work and it’s horrible, but we have to do it,” School Committee Chair Sarah Fox said. “This is not something we want to do, this is something we have to do, we have to present this level of funding.”

School staff have already begun to question whether they will have a job next year, Buckey said.

“People will begin looking with this level of uncertainty and certainly with districts unable to fill positions, there is plenty of opportunity out there, and so I can see people hedging their bets and saying, ‘I don’t know if I’ll have a Marblehead job next year. So I’m going to look elsewhere,’” Buckey said.

The Finance Committee will be voting on the budget at the beginning of April. The final budget for FY24 has to be released two weeks prior. The School Committee needs to solidify the $800,000 in cuts before building an override budget, according to Fox.

“We can’t come forward with an override a week or two ahead of time before our budget hearing. We’re going to need to have forums, we’re going to need to have public engagement,” Fox said. “So we need to get this work done and I understand why we all want to put it off. I don’t like doing this either, but we’ve been given this number by the town.”

The list of the positions and programs being cut will be out to the public by April 15, she said. If the committee is to receive the override budget funding, which will save positions from being cut, they won’t have those funds until the end of June.

“Hopefully, if the override passes, we can then go back to these people on June 22 or 23, and say, we have the funding and we want to keep you,” Fox said.