At the Revere Public School Committee Ways and Means meeting last week Superintendent Dr. Dianne Kelly reported that RPS has kicked off its lengthy budget process and funding for next year looks better than it has in decades.
“This coming school year we will actually have $132 million that we could spend just in this next school year on our school department,” said Kelly at the meeting. “That’s almost a $30 million, increase over last year, which is absolutely astronomical. It’s the kind of funding that we should have had phased in over the last two decades.”
Over the next several weeks Kelly in the school committee will begin the process of how to best spend the increase in funding for the next school year that will most likely focus on getting students back to where they need to be post-pandemic.
“What’s unique about this year is that our funding is different than it’s been in decades,” said Kelly. “We have been thinking a lot about how we can improve the district and ways to leverage this additional funding to really influence the outcomes for our students. What really impacted some of the decisions are the vast amount of input that we got from our community meetings just over a year ago, when we thought we were going to have some funding for Fiscal Year 2021. However, this funding was not realized because the pandemic caused the state to pull back the funding we anticipated from the Student Opportunity Act (SOA). So what we are hoping to do is to set an overarching vision for this funding.”
Kelly said the additional funding that RPS has on top of SOA funding are other grants like the American Recovery Act that are forthcoming.
“These are sizable amounts (of funding) as well,” said Kelly.
After expenses last year, the School Committee agreed to reserve about $878,000 in the fall left over from the 2019/2020 school year.
“We agreed that we should leave that funding unspent because we were not sure at the time what our fiscal status would be for next school year,” said Kelly. “So when all of that was said and done we had $99 million to operate the school department. Then we received some additional funding because of COVID.”
Throughout the pandemic Kelly said RPS received one grant for $2.2 million and an additional $320,000 in Remote Learning Technology grants, which RPS used to buy the Chromebooks that went to students.
“We also had at one point almost $1.7 million in Coronavirus Relief funding,” said Kelly. “Most of that was targeted for the purchase of PPE and other things that we needed to ensure that our schools were safe. So our grand total we had to spend for the school year was $103 million.”
Kelly said now with SOA funding hopefully coming through finally to the tune of $11 million for RPS the schools will be in real good shape fiscally.
“This year we had $108.7 million to spend on the school district,” said Kelly. “Again that’s a sizable jump over last year’s budget of $103 million and we anticipate with grants and SOA funding that we’ll have $132 million to spend on our schools–an increase of nearly $30 million.”