Schools will bare brunt of town deficit

Photo by Charlie McKenna

With a deficit in the town budget, the School Department has been hit particularly hard with budget cuts.

On Feb. 14, Superintendent John Buckey met with the School Committee after Town Administrator Thatcher Kezer informed them that they needed to cut an additional $800,000 dollars after initially making $4 million in cuts for the FY24 budget.

The budget submitted by Buckey had about $5 million in cuts to the original fiscal year 2024 (FY24) budget. As a result, jobs and programs in the schools are being cut. 

“In the town budget there is one line item that pays for the appropriation to the schools,” Kezer said. “So, the effort there is the school is getting down to what we’ve estimated as the available revenues to support that. On the town side, we were going through the same process.”

Buckey, in an email interview, stated that personnel is their “largest budget drive,” and that they need to make some difficult, yet necessary decisions to stay within the budget.

“Our contractual obligations are $1.4 million so in order to put forward a balanced budget, we needed to make some very difficult decisions with regard to our personnel,” Buckey said, referring to committed pay raises. 

In June of 2022, a $3.1 million Proposition 2 1/2 tax override for Marblehead Public Schools failed to pass at the town election. Of the roughly 6,000 residents who voted in the election, about 70 percent voted against the override that would have helped fund a number of services, including curriculum and personnel. 

This year, the committee is attempting to pass another override. With the Finance Committee voting on the budget at the beginning of April, the School Committee must have the additional $800,000 in cuts solidified in order to create an override budget. The FY24 final budget must be submitted two weeks before the Finance Committee meets. 

With April fast approaching, Buckey said that he is working closely with the various town officials and committees involved to finalize the budget.

“We remain in communication with Town and the Finance Committee, as well as the School Committee’s budget subcommittee as we consider various iterations of our FY24 budget development.” 

  • Ryan Vermette is the Item's Marblehead reporter. He graduated from Springfield College in 2021 with a Bachelor's degree in Communications/Sports Journalism. While in school, he wrote multiple sports articles for the school newspaper, the Springfield Student, and joined Essex Media Group in August, 2022. Ryan is a college basketball fanatic and an avid Boston sports fan and in his free time, enjoys video games and Marvel movies.