LUDLOW — After previously stating that staff may need to be reduced, Ludlow Public Schools Superintendent Frank Tiano announced at the March 21 School Committee meeting that the administrative team had identified ways to reduce the fiscal year 2025 general fund budget without cutting staff.

These new adjustments were approved by the School Committee in a revised budget vote on March 21. They allow the school budget to meet the 3% general fund increase requested by the town without cutting staff, removing programs or impacting class sizes, Tiano explained. Although, certain staff may need to be moved according to student need, he said.

The FY25 budget with the 3% increase totals just over $37 million and would still be considered below level service by $388,274 with these adjustments. This is due to the rising cost of business, which means Ludlow has to pay more every year to offer the same services, Tiano told Reminder Publishing.

However, despite the budget being below level service, families and students will not see any direct impacts, he emphasized. In previous years, the budget below level service has resulted in noticeable cuts, such as the 20 full-time equivalency positions that were removed in FY24, Tiano explained.

The adjustments approved by the School Committee on March 21 can be divided between additions and reductions from the FY25 budget. The largest addition is the $170,000 available from circuit breaker, which is a program centered on special education costs. The funds are available as a result being allotted in FY24, but not utilized, Tiano said.

He highlighted multiple factors that influenced why the funds were not used in FY24, including more special education costs being reimbursed by the state at a higher rate, students moving from out-of-district to in-district schools and students moving to other towns.

Similarly, more than $126,000 of School Choice funds that were allocated in FY24 will be available to use in the FY25 budget, Tiano stated. School Choice and circuit breaker funds are allocated every year as part of revolving accounts and can carry over if unused. These additional available funds were initially “unforseen,” he explained, stating that funds carried over from the previous year are not guaranteed and vary depending on each year’s costs.

The approved reduction adjustments were items moved from the FY25 budget to other funding sources. These include $82,000 for student transportation costs and $12,010 for outside rug cleaning services as well as two costs items for the Track Project funded by the town, Tiano said. The final two reductions were the relocation of $17,200 for athletic dues and $11,440 for athletic travel costs, which will both be moved to the athletic revolving account. These services are not being cut but moved from the general fund budget to accommodate the needed cuts, he explained.

With the School Committee’s approval of the adjustments, the FY25 budget will be sent to the Board of Selectmen for approval before being included in the town budget article at Town Meeting, Tiano said. He emphasized that all school budget information is available on the department’s website for residents to review.

“We’ve worked diligently to be transparent so folks know where their money is going,” he stated.

More information about the FY25 school budget is available at ludlowps.org/district-departments/business-office/budget.

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