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SPS Chief Financial and Operations Officer Patrick Roach, front, presents an update on the fiscal year 2025 budget to the SPS Budget and Finance Subcommittee on March 6.
Reminder Publishing photo by Laura Mason

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Public Schools Chief Financial and Operations Officer Patrick Roach presented a brief update on the fiscal year 2025 budget to the School Committee’s Budget and Finance Subcommittee during its March 6 meeting.

Roach began the presentation by highlighting that the budget was designed to support the city’s Strategic Plan for 2022-2028. This document notes multiple priorities including, student’s wellbeing, “advancing educational equity,” and listening to the community.

In the projected budget, revenue will likely increase by $33.9 million while expenses are expected to rise by $34.7 million, Roach reported. He stated that “it’s a pretty low inflation year” and the School Department is still receiving funds through the Student Opportunity Act, which is a state-run program through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that provides funds to support student needs.

Another important component of the budget is the Empowerment Zone, which is currently listed as receiving $7.6 million from the general fund. This expense is connected to “cost-shifting” by the organization and is not yet finalized within the budget, Roach said.

He also stated that the city’s ESSER funds, or Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds provided for impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, will no longer be available after “the end of the year.” These funds were mostly utilized for one-time costs.

Roach explained that the administration was working to finalize individual schools’ budgets and the central office’s budget. This will help to inform the final School Department budget. He also said that transportation costs were expected to rise “significantly,” although the rates were not yet known.

Roach will present the full recommended budget to the Budget and Finance Subcommittee on April 10. The public will be able to view the budget between April 17-24 and a public hearing for the budget will occur on April 24, he said. The full School Committee will then vote on the FY25 budget on May 2.

After the presentation, subcommittee member LaTonia Monroe Naylor questioned the discrepancy between the projected revenue and expenses for the district. In response, Roach stated that the administration is reviewing the individual departments’ budgets and working to narrow costs in anticipation of this projected deficit.

During the meeting, the public was also given the opportunity to share their thoughts on the budget. Jessica Corwin, the director of the Adaptive Music Program at the Community Music School of Springfield, requested that the district continue to provide financial support in FY25, as it was newly given in FY24.
Corwin explained that the Adaptive Music Program teaches music to “more than 600 special education students in the Springfield Public Schools every week, welcoming them into the essential human experience of making music in ways that match their abilities and bring them joy.” The program, which runs during and after school, was able to expand to this reach in FY24 as a result of the district’s support, she said.

Corwin also stated that she would provide more information about the program at the School Committee’s full meeting on March 14. No other members of the public chose to speak at the meeting.

This public input session was in addition to the FY25 budget survey, which allowed residents to voice their concerns for the budget. According to the Springfield Public Schools website, this survey was publicly available until March 8.

lmason@thereminder.com | + posts