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Projections ‘pie in the sky’ as school officials work on budget


TOWNSEND — Making good on last year’s promise to keep member communities better informed about the process, the North Middlesex Regional School District Committee has voted to keep boards of selectmen, finance committees and parents informed as it establishes its 2010 budget-setting time line.

Recommendations will be formulated with the help of a three-member Finance (planning) Subcommittee.

Superintendent Maureen Marshall said indications from the governor’s office are that Chapter 70 funding might stay at similar levels to that of fiscal year 2009.

Chairman Arnold Silva and possibly other committee members planned to attend a Dec. 9 budget discussion at the Lowell office of Sen. Steven Panagiotakos.

Committee member Frederick Wheeler, of Townsend, asked if a presentation on special education and technical curriculum costs could be added to budget talks, as they were several years ago.

Marshall said they could become part of a general meeting discussion.

Silva emphasized that the finance meetings are open to all regular committee members and asked the planning group to make some projections beyond just next year. They are also open to the public, Marshall said.

“A lot of people have asked me for projections,” Silva said. “I know it’s pie in the sky, but then we can figure out what gets posted onto the (district’s) Web site to make it easier for the public to find.”

The financial planning subcommittee was formed Nov. 17.

Administrators will be developing the FY2010 budget through Dec. 19.

All Finance Subcommittee meetings will be held in the Professional Development Center at North Middlesex Regional High School, starting at 6 p.m.

* On Monday, Jan. 12 (snow date, Tuesday, Jan. 13), administrators will present proposed cost center budgets (central office, technology, high school and middle schools) to the subcommittee, replacing the regular School Committee meeting.

* Proposed pre-kindergarten through grade five schools and pre-kindergarten through grade 12 special education budgets will be heard Tuesday, Jan. 20 (snow date, Wednesday, Jan. 21).

* A regular School Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m.

* The Finance Subcommittee continues its review and evaluation of proposed internal budget adjustments for all cost centers on Monday, Feb. 9 (snow date, Wednesday, Feb. 11), replacing the regular School Committee meeting.

* A formal budget hearing is scheduled for the regular School Committee meeting on Monday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. (snow date, Tuesday, Feb. 24).

* At 6 p.m. on Monday, March 2, a tentative meeting is scheduled to discuss further adjustments prior to budget adoption scheduled for March 9’s regular committee meeting (snow date, Tuesday, March 10).

Ashby town meeting takes place on Saturday, May 2, followed by Pepperell town meeting on Monday, May 4, and Townsend’s town meeting on Tuesday, May 5.

During February, March or April, Finance Subcommittee members will likely be asked to attend specific community finance committee meetings.