Update: FY2015 budget process -recap

Dear friends and neighbors, The FY2015 budget process is over. We are taking stock of what we have achieved and planning for the future. For exact percentages or write ups of the final budget, please see the Tab, Watertown News, the Residents for Strong School's FB site, or Town documents.

We all worked together displaying our unwavering commitment to Watertown Public Schools. We took a substantial step forward and we've made new connections and relationships across town. Our town hasn't seen such a high level of engagement on the part of parents and other members of this community in many years. Whether you attended meetings, emailed and or called elected officials, displayed a lawn sign, signed up for the WSS updates list, or engaged on the Facebook page, you helped to make this happen. Thank you so much for your efforts!

While we may adjust our pace, we can't lose our momentum. We must continue this effort together. Our schools did not get the full budget that they asked for and this puts administrators in a difficult position, trying to figure out how to meet the needs of all kids. While we will be engaged in the future budget efforts, we must also work together to fill the gaps.

What can we (as a group) do? What do we (WSS) plan to do (please join us)?

  • Get involved in the Community Planning process. The Comprehensive Plan Forum is tonight June 18, 2014 @ 6:30pm at the Watertown Middle School Auditorium. Our School Committee Chairperson mentioned that schools and education received little attention in the plan and didn't earn a spot in the Table of Contents of the long document. Come and speak up. Child care provided.
  • We'd like to bring together Site Councils across the schools to understand the unique needs of each school better and brainstorm on how to meet the needs that have not be met through the budget process.
  • We have a new Business Manager, a new Director of Special Education, but we are losing key staff as well. We'd like to begin conversations with our new professionals and understand why we are losing some of our other folks.
  • The Town Council voted to conduct an external audit of the school system. We'd like to put to rest all accounting and budgeting problems from the past and focus on a strong process, tools, and systems moving forward. We want to be engaged and shine light into this process so that past mistakes never again impede WPS from obtaining the resources they need to educate Watertown's students.
  • The next School Committee meeting is Wed, June 25, 6pm – 8pm at the Watertown High School Lecture Hall. We expect to hear about how the schools will use the 2015 budget and what they won't be able to fund. We'd like to work with the Watertown Education Foundation to help identify donations and resources for some discrete, non-staff items. We'd also like to ask for community engagement so that we can fill in some of the gaps so that all Watertown children get the education they deserve, even when our local budget falls short. WEF, we are reaching out to you shortly!
  • We'll have a planning meeting in late August. If you have ideas, share them. Please stay engaged!

Lawn signs: Please save them for next year! Most people purchased signs, so hold on to them. If you prefer, we can hold onto them. You can drop them at 14 Center Street, front porch.

All the best,

Candace and the rest of WSS