Metro, Politics, Newton

School Committee Approves NPS Budget, Including 17.7 Full-Time Equivalent Job Cuts

The Newton School Committee approved Newton Public Schools’ (NPS) fiscal year 2023 budget by a margin of 8–1 at a meeting on Tuesday night.

The budget now includes cuts of 17.7 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions for the fiscal year 2023.

Positions that will be cut include teachers at Newton North High School and Newton South High School, curriculum coordinators, a high school guidance counselor, and literary specialists. 

The final figure for total cuts came from the addition of 3.0 FTE elementary classroom teachers, decreasing the amount of teachers and staff cut from 20.7 FTE to 17.7 FTE, according to David Fleishman, superintendent of NPS. 

“We did an updated analysis of elementary enrollment and realized we needed the positions there,” he said at the Tuesday meeting.

Christopher Brezski, Ward 2 member of the School Committee, asked Fleishman if he has any concerns about large class sizes as a result of the job cuts. Fleishman said that he has focused on reducing class size.

“We are not going to have class sizes that are too high,” Fleishman said. “If we need one more teacher, we’re going to add that teacher.”

As the committee prepared to vote, Ayesha Farag, assistant superintendent for elementary education at NPS, said that the goal of the school district is to keep the quality of education a top priority

“We want this for all of our kids and all of our schools,” she said. “Maintaining the class sizes and the best learning environments possible for all of our kids in all of the schools is our goal.”

Of the nine votes, the only vote against the budget’s approval came from Paul Levy, Ward 6 member of the School Committee. Levy said that he has concerns about the budget process and the end result, including saying that NPS and the city administration lost credibility while crafting the budget.

“In the public sector, the currency of the realm is not money. It’s credibility,” Levy said.

City administrations and NPS officials collaborated on the budget while not incorporating the money that the city received from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Levy said. 

“That proposal not to fully fund the schools—leaving many staff members and programs in the balance—appears to be the result of private meetings between the city administration and the superintendent, notwithstanding that the city is sitting on 10s of millions of dollars of fund money under ARPA,” he said.

Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller will present the approved NPS budget—alongside the other parts of the city’s fiscal year 2023 budget—to the Newton City Council on April 19, according to the School Committee’s meeting materials.

Tamika Olszewski, School Committee chair and Ward 4 member, ended the meeting by thanking her colleagues and NPS officials for their work throughout the budgeting process.

“Thank you very much for diligently and doggedly working toward this approval for the many, many weeks that we’ve been reviewing our budget,” she said. “We know that it was incredibly difficult. We know that you did wonderful, amazing work, working under difficult circumstances, and we appreciate everything that you’ve done.”

April 13, 2022