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Kingston, MA: School budget woes; "SPED costs continuing to be the elephant in the room"

Oct 5, 2018, Plymouth, MA Wicked Local Kingston: Kingston’s fiscal 2020 budget presenting headaches Major changes may be in store for Kingston’s town government in fiscal 2020 with a potential new flow of revenue into town at least a few years away. KINGSTON – …Tuesday night Town Administrator Tom Calter said cost reductions, reorganization and consolidation that would create dramatic change and may affect services are going to be included in a comprehensive plan for Kingston…. Superintendent of Schools Joy Blackwood plans to apply this winter for a Massachusetts School Building Assistance grant for a new Kingston Elementary School roof, and maybe doors and windows. While the town would contribute under $2 million toward the $3 million estimated cost of a roof with grant approval, Fiore said the town needs to have $200,000 in free cash available in July to start the process…. Pike said finalizing a budget will be a balancing act, especially with special education costs continuing to be the elephant in the room. School budgets won’t be ready as early as the town budgets. Blackwood suggested a change in how the Kingston and Silver Lake budgets are presented at Town Meeting. It’s a change she recommends based on the discussion at the last Kingston Town Meeting about special education costs. Rather than presenting a regular day budget and a special education budget, she said she is proposing that there also be a separate budget for out-of-district students and out-of-district transportation, as they have in the town of Halifax. She said she hopes the change will make it clearer to Town Meeting voters what the special education costs are and avoid an “us versus them” response. She said some positions that are budgeted serve both regular day and special education students.

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