At the Aug. 11 School Committee meeting, Interim Superintendent Michelle Cresta announced a surprising increase in enrollment at the Veterans School that will lead to bigger classes than expected.
“At the Veterans School, overall enrollment has increased by 54 students, which includes 30 new students to the district,” Cresta said.
Principal Matt Fox added, “Class sizes will be large.” There will be as many as 25 students in some classes.
“We had 395 students last year; now we have 449,” Fox said. There are 238 students in seventh grade and 211 in eighth grade.
“Essentially, we added an entire classroom,” he said. “If there was any way I could’ve predicted this, I would.”
Cresta also said that the Brown School kindergarten classes are at “max” size, Glover enrollment is down a little, and Village is at projected enrollment rates. There’s an overall increase of 18 students at the high school.
Cresta announced that the just-passed Massachusetts state budget includes universal free lunch for all students K-12. In addition to the free lunch, schools will offer à la carte items (like an extra slice of pizza) for a fee.
The district also received a Chapter 70 school funding increase, but Cresta said it “does not have a direct impact on our FY 24 budget.”
Cresta said district leaders are preparing for the new school year.
“Our facilities department has been busy; our IT department has been busy; our administrators have been busy,” she said.
Elementary school schedules should go out Aug. 18. Teachers will return on Aug. 29 with students starting on Sept. 5.
The district’s pay-to-ride program for elementary students is returning, and online registration begins Aug. 15 at 6:30 p.m. It is first come, first serve. The district is also working with the MBTA to get discounted bus passes for middle and high school students.
Cresta also presented a financial update at the meeting.
The operating budget for FY 23 (which ended June 30) was $43,982,273 and total expenditures were $42,676,176. There are some bills still outstanding totalling more than $1.3 million.
“Our turn-back to the general fund will be $2,” Cresta said.
Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.