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Homebusiness financeMarblehead Schools Begin 'Reduced-Services' Budget Cuts Process

Marblehead Schools Begin ‘Reduced-Services’ Budget Cuts Process

Schools Marblehead Schools Begin ‘Reduced-Services’ Budget Cuts Process Cuts “will include a significant number of staff positions” warns Assistant Superintendent Of Business and Finance Michelle Cresta.
“We will be struggling with how we see cuts of $2.3 million if we do not seek any additional funding.” – Marblehead Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Michelle Cresta (Shutterstock)
MARBLEHEAD, MA — A significant amount of staff and classroom positions could be on the chopping block in Marblehead Public Schools again this spring as part of a “reduced-services” budget proposal the town requested amid a structural deficit.
While Marblehead Town Administrator Thatcher Kezer said the town is not planning to ask for a Proposition 2 1/2 tax override again this spring after last year’s general override failed, that means the schools could have to cut about $2.3 million from what would be considered a “level-services” budget of about $48 million for Fiscal Year 2025. (More on Patch: Marblehead State Of The Town: Cuts Needed But Override Not Expected)
Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Michelle Cresta, who is leaving the district next month to take a similar position in the Manchester-Essex school district, said the schools have prepared a “level-services” budget that would maintain current services and be about $3 million higher than 2024, a “needs-based” budget that includes some increased support services with offsetting cuts to be determined, and the “reduced-services” budget that she said “really is what we are focusing on now.” “We have a directive from the town to come up with a reduced-services budget given the state of the town information that came out,” she said. “We will be struggling with how we see cuts of $2.3 million if we do not seek any additional funding.”
The School Committee supported general tax overrides the past two years to supplement the budget with the townwide vote failing to support them both times. While the School Committee voted to keep the override warrant item as a “placeholder” for this year’s town meeting, there were no indications during Thursday’s budget discussion that seeking a third straight override is under consideration at this time. Cresta noted that last year the schools eliminated 33 equivalent full-time staff positions and corresponding services at a savings of $1.5 million. Some of those positions were unfilled at the time.
“We are looking at $2.3 million this year so it is certainly significant,” she said. “Certainly we cannot get rid of (out-of-district special education) tuitions, we cannot get rid of our transportation and we cannot get rid of our utilities. “So that really leaves us with some hard (personnel) decisions to be made.”
Interim Superintendent Theresa McGuinness said officials will host a “Finance Forum” on Feb. 27 to help provide the public with information about the budget and the potential need for cuts. Cresta said starting next week the district leadership team will collaborate to determine the recommended cuts that will be presented to the School Committee as part of two budget workshops in February. “Cuts will be significant,” she said. “They will absolutely impact the classrooms. And they will include a significant number of staff positions.” (Scott Souza is a Patch field editor covering Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem and Swampscott. He can be reached at Scott.Souza@Patch.com. X/Twitter: @Scott_Souza.)

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