$103M budget for FY 2015 is up less than 2%; $14.9M gap between the amount requested by schools and proposed.

Byline: Elaine Thompson

SHREWSBURY -- Town Manager Daniel J. Morgado's initial recommended fiscal 2015 budget of $103.3 million represents an increase over the current budget of less than 2 percent. The recommended 1.52 percent increase for the school department is way short of the nearly 15 percent increase School Superintendent Joseph M. Sawyer is requesting.

Mr. Morgado's recommended total budget of $103,314,357 is $1,252,014 higher than the current $102,062,343 budget.

It includes $18,330,900 for general government, down 1.09 percent from this year's $18,533,528 budget. The town manager is recommending a school budget of $52,833,962, a 1.52 percent increase over the current budget of $52,040,646. Budgets for water and sewer and fixed costs make up the remainder.

But the superintendent, at the Jan. 22 School Committee meeting, recommended a budget of $59.84 million, an increase of $7.8 million, or 14.99 percent.

At the meeting, Mr. Sawyer said he is uncomfortable with the budget request because of the town's limited resources and additional funding needs of other departments; but he's more uncomfortable with the state of the school district that is reaching a level bordering on "impoverished ... in a community that has the means to provide adequate resources to its schools.'' The root cause is years of underfunding the school budget.

Mr. Sawyer cited overcrowded classrooms, some with as many as 31 students, outdated textbooks and technology, program cuts and deteriorating test scores.

In his Jan. 24 budget presentation, Mr. Morgado acknowledged that the budget...

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