Scully: Budget Shortfall Cut From $1M to $600,000

Superintendent James F. Scully

With more than half the current fiscal year gone, penny-pinching has cut an estimated $1 million shortfall by about 40 percent, according to Superintendent James F. Scully.

“We’re trying to hold our funds and I’m optimistic we won’t be a deficit situation by the end of the (fiscal) year,” Scully told School Committee members during the board’s regular meeting Thursday.

Scully said spending has been frozen wherever possible, resulting in a reduction of the shortfall to about $600,000.

Every spending request is scrutinized on a case-by-case basis, Scully said, and many spending decisions are being deferred in hopes that they can be covered in the 2018 budget, Scully said.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini, the School Committee’s chairman, said that while he’s glad Scully is holding the line on 2017 spending, he worries about what will happen in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

As preparations begin at the state level for the 2018 fiscal year, there is talk of a potential deficit between $600 million and $800 million, depending on who you talk to.

Gov. Charles A. Baker has estimated an $800 million shortfall, Fiorentini said. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation released a report earlier this month estimating a $619 million shortall.

“I absolutely want you to live within your budget for fiscal year 2017. I have confidence we’ll come out relatively OK. But your presentation makes me already more concerned about fiscal year 2018. The more we defer to FY18, the tougher it’s going to be,” Fiorentini said.

In fiscal 2018, the city is contractually obligated to fund salary increases that were recently approved for teachers and clerical staff, Fiorentini reminded the committee.

School Committee member Paul Magliocchetti commended Scully for the cuts made so far, but noted that $600,000 “is still a lot of money.”

“I would like to know, in particular, where you’re looking to get some significant savings,” Magliocchetti said.

Scully responded that, “If a position doesn’t need to get replaced, it doesn’t get replaced.”

Every position is weighed when an employee resigns or retires, the superintendent said. Teaching positions are not being eliminated, but there have been cases where aides and support personnel have not been replaced, he said.

In addition, some teaching positions have been filled by long-term substitutes, depending on the subject matter and the availability of certified teachers, Scully said.

Committee member Sven Amirian questioned whether the use of long-term substitutes is weakening student services.

“When I see that, it makes me wonder about the quality of the education our students are getting,” Amirian said.

Scully said qualified, certified teachers are hired whenever possible, but that there are some subject areas that are harder to fill, especially when vacancies occur mid-year.

Other means of cost-cutting have included reducing the number of out-of-district placements for special-education students, and deferring staff development requests out of the region if the same opportunity can be found closer to home, Scully said.



5 thoughts on “Scully: Budget Shortfall Cut From $1M to $600,000

  1. Scully doesn’t work for anyone. That’s the problem. The School Committee needs to do its job. Spending on non-teaching positions has grown faster than teachers during Scully’s tenure. That’s a fact. Every time he screws up the budget he blames special needs students. Disgraceful.

  2. Funny you should mention the mayor Jack-as if Sculley doesn’t work directly for him. NEWSFLASH: like it or not the superintendent is, as the saying goes, the mayor’s boy.

  3. A little confused…Where are the “budget hawks,” the “all haverhill officials do is tax and spend!” Where are you Jacks???’s different this time because it’s one of your own.

    Failure to adequately budget, spending without approval of the school cmte, but cricketssss because the Super. is one of your own.

    Hypocrisy. We have our own little Trumpland here: rule by bullying, appeal to moral authority of those not paying attention, and label all those critical and seeking improvements in our schools as “anti-Haverhill.

    • Sorry Dan, I was on a business trip. You know….those trips people in the real world take in order to make money to pay all the taxes the incompetent mayor has created.

      “…one of your own.” ? Not sure what you mean by that, Dan.

      Dan, if you have been paying attention to what Scully has been faced with in this city since he’s been here you’d know his budget has a large amount of “variable costs”. Unlike most other departments in the city that have highly predictable “fixed costs” which can easily be planned for, the school department doesn’t operate like that. Because many of the variable costs Scully faces are expenditures the city incurs as a result of State of Massachusetts laws and mandates, it goes without saying predetermined budgets can, and will incur overruns.

      The very fact that Scully has made this information public ahead of any possible shortfalls indicates what an exceptional leader he is and what a great job he’s doing. What would you have him do Dan, keep all the costs and expenditures he has absolutely no control over secret like the mayor does so that it doesn’t make him look bad?