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Brockton School Committee Endorses District’s Recommended Fiscal Year 2025 Budget for Submission to City Council

Brockton School Committee Endorses District’s Recommended Fiscal Year 2025 Budget for Submission to City Council

BROCKTON- The Brockton School Committee has endorsed the Brockton Public Schools’ recommended $232.7 million net school spending budget for fiscal year 2025 (FY25), which will be submitted for the City Council’s consideration at a budget hearing next week. This budget is in addition to the $18 million non-net school spending budget the Committee approved separately.

The Brockton Public Schools may close fiscal year 2024 (FY24), which concludes on June 30, with a modest budget surplus, one year after finishing FY23 with a deficit of $18.3 million.

Any potential surplus is a reflection of the work done so far to establish tighter controls in the district’s spending practices, but is also a direct result of numerous cuts to services, including abstaining from filling key positions that directly support students’ learning. In its March report on the FY23 budget deficit, independent auditor Open Architects forecasted that the Brockton Public Schools could face a $19-25 million deficit in FY24 without immediate intervention. The FY23 deficit remains under investigation by the City of Brockton.

As the Brockton Public Schools look ahead to FY25, the superintendent’s recommended $232.7 million budget is driven by increasing enrollment at the elementary level, shifting demographics in the student population – most notably an influx in multi-lingual learners – and the need to ensure compliance with state special education mandates.

Included in the FY25 recommended budget are 97 critically needed positions directly linked to responding to these factors. The district anticipates that students requiring special education services will rise to 25% of the overall student population in the coming school year. Such an increase demands an increase in staffing to ensure all students receive their legally mandated services.

The district’s FY25 budget also incorporates strategic reductions in force at the district’s Central Office, including downgrading the ranks of key department leadership positions, so that classroom instruction and student needs could be better prioritized. The district is also committed to not laying off teachers in FY25.

Of the 97 key positions the district has identified and accounted for in its FY25 budget recommendation, 52 are teaching positions. Of those, approximately a dozen positions would be designed to meet the needs of multilingual learners, and seven more would provide intensive special education support directly to students at the classroom level. The budget also calls for the addition of numerous paraprofessionals to support the delivery of special education services that are mandated under state and federal law.

“This budget recommendation is the result of countless hours of work, as part of a reimagined budgeting process, that identified the needs of Brockton’s students, including the shifts in our student demographics, and working to meet those needs with highly trained and qualified full-time educators,” Acting Superintendent Dr. James Cobbs said. “We have a responsibility to provide Brockton’s children with an education that is equitable, builds their proficiency and readies them to pursue every opportunity that comes their way in adulthood. This budget reflects the resources we need to continue our work toward that goal in the coming year.”

To facilitate a thoughtful and holistic discussion of the district’s budget request, including the context and fundamental drivers of increased costs to provide an equitable education, the district invited members of the City Council to attend classes at any of several schools throughout Brockton this week.

While growing special education needs are a major driver of the district’s budget recommendation, a significant year-over-year enrollment increase and the associated demographic shifts are also major factors.

Since Oct. 1, 2023, which is the Commonwealth’s cutoff date for measuring student populations as part of its calculation of local aid, Brockton’s schools have welcomed 521 new students. That number is greater than the overall student populations at six of Brockton’s traditional school buildings, including four of its six middle schools. Since the start of the current school year, Brockton has welcomed hundreds of students for whom English is not their first language, requiring additional resources to accommodate these multi-lingual learners.

At the elementary level alone, Brockton’s schools have 239 more students today than they did on Oct. 1.

Through its FY25 funding proposal, the district seeks to relieve growing class sizes for student populations with unique needs, including bilingual class sizes that have reached over 70 students per class at Brockton High School and more than 40 at the middle school level.

The Superintendent’s Cabinet will present the district’s recommended budget to the city’s Finance Committee on Tuesday, June 18, at 6 p.m.

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