Superintendent's Update
Friday, January 14, 2022
Members of the ARHS National Arts Honor Society Join Professional Artist Byrnes in interpreting and admiring his work. (Photo by Matea Rowe-Bond, Harbinger Staff Photographer)

Table of Contents:

Superintendent’s Weekly Message: The Budget Process Explained
A Message from Dr. Medina, District Physician
2022-2023 Partial List of Religious and Cultural Observances
District’s Religious Observance Policy (Same for all three districts)
Transition Planning for Students Ages 14-22 Years

COVID-19 Information

Dear Parent(s) and Guardian(s):

The Budget Process Explained: Preparation of the upcoming fiscal year budget begins in the late summer of each year, at least six months before submitting the budget to the school committees for approval. After the close of the prior year's budget and the launch of the current fiscal year budget, the upcoming fiscal year budget process begins.

The budget process is a ‘means to an end,’ and the essential question that drives the budget process is: “What resources are required for the upcoming fiscal year to support the academic growth of students, maintain capital assets, and ensure the districts are implementing best practices?” Throughout the process, the District’s strategic plan, Vision 2026: Educate, Inspire, Challenge, and school improvement plans serve as catalysts for discussions and budget decisions. The budget process involves many stakeholders and represents a collaborative, iterative process. I’ve summarized the key milestones of the process below.  

September-November - Budget Priorities and Initial Budget Requests
An essential step in the budget process is the school committee’s development and approval of budget priorities in October. These guidelines establish the school committee’s priorities for the districts and are used by the leadership teams to develop their budget recommendation. The Superintendent and the Director of Finance work with directors, principals, curriculum leaders, and educators to identify the resources needed for the upcoming fiscal year. Furthermore, during October and November, the school committees’ Operational Budget Subcommittees convene to review initial budget requests and learn more about the forthcoming budgetary landscape.  

Preliminary Budget
The school committees’ first budget consideration occurs at regular school committee meetings in December. All school committee meetings are open to the public, posted with the Town Clerk(s) and the agenda is posted on the District website.

The Superintendent presents Preliminary Budgets that incorporate projected expenses (E.g., contractual obligations to employees, utility rates, enrollment figures, assessment of special education population needs, and the current regular education program). The Preliminary Budgets also include a projection of additional resources that might be recommended during the upcoming budget cycle, above and beyond a level services budget. A "level services" budget delivers the same level of services that were delivered the previous fiscal year in the upcoming fiscal year.

Recommended Budget
In January or February, the Superintendent presents Recommended Budgets to the school committees at their meetings. The Recommended Budget includes input from directors, curriculum leaders, principals, and educators. It incorporates the school committees’ voted budget priorities, collective bargaining obligations, federal and state mandates such as the provision for Special Education, and elements of the District’s strategic plan, Vision 2026: Educate, Inspire, Challenge

The Recommended Budget reflects adjustments based on fiscal constraints and incorporates operational efficiencies and leveraged revenue sources. At the school committee meetings, the Superintendent and the Director of Finance review the Recommended Budgets to the school committee. At these meetings, the school committee members ask questions and discuss how the budgets align with Vision 2026 and budget priorities. Additionally, in each town, the Financial Planning (Northborough) and Advisory Committee (Southborough) meet with the school committees, Superintendent, and Director of Finance to understand the budgets and the implications for the larger towns’ budgets.

School Committee Approval
During January and February, the school committees deliberate on the Superintendent’s Recommended Budgets. The budget deliberation process reveals the cost of the basic daily operations of the facilities, educational services, and the cost of maintaining excellence in teaching and learning. The school committees’ vote to approve/not approve the budgets.

Budget Public Hearing and Town Meeting Vote
A Budget Public Hearing is held at the March school committee meetings to hear the perspective of and answer questions from the public. Lastly, the budget and other fiscal matters are debated and voted on at the annual town meetings. 

In the weeks and months ahead, the Fiscal Year 2023 budget process will unfold, I will keep the community informed on the progress. In the meantime, key Fiscal Year 2023 budget documents can be found on the District’s Finance Department’s website.

Gregory L. Martineau
Superintendent of Schools
A Message from Dr. Medina: District Physician
Dear Parent(s) and Guardian(s):

The uncertainty around this new unexpected twist in the COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly poses new challenges for us all. As a community, we all realize the impact this has on our children’s social and emotional well-being.  

Behavior changes in children of all ages are often a manifestation of underlying anxiety and depression. Kids are doing their best in a difficult situation. Parents should look for signs of increased anger, defiance, or withdrawal, as they may be a signal that they need additional support.

The often mixed or conflicting messages communicated during the evolving COVID-19 pandemic cultivate a perception of unpredictability and uncertainty which is very anxiety-provoking. Have open and honest conversations with children and adolescents about what they are hearing in the media. Avoidance of such conversations does not protect children. Watch news reports with children. It is best to answer children’s questions honestly and acknowledge that you may not have all the answers but will do your best to listen and keep them safe and well. Guidance on the uncertainty and communicating it to children includes acknowledgment and acceptance of the lack of control.

It’s best to focus on things that we do have control over. Continue healthy eating habits, time outside, and consistent sleep. Help children foster creativity. Volunteer in the community. It gives them purpose and helps their mood. It is important that as adults, we model adaptability as things change. Being able to accept and adapt to uncertainty has been linked to developing a more resilient approach to life.

There are signs we need to be on alert for that indicate the need to seek help:
Feeling on edge and worrying excessively 
Physical symptoms such as fatigue, headache, or GI symptoms, unexplained after medical evaluation
Avoiding activities they previously enjoyed
Changes in sleep (trouble falling asleep or sleeping too much)
Changes in eating habits (less or more)
Struggling academically
Spending more time alone and withdrawing from family and friends
Noticeably sad, often for no reason

If you are concerned, have a conversation with your child or teen about their feelings and contact their primary care provider. Our Youth and Family Services Departments in Northborough and Southborough can also provide support. If you have any concerns about your child’s safety, contact Massachusetts Emergency Services for immediate help.  

Dr. Safdar Medina
District Physician
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