Natick has used grants, reimbursements, and other one-time funds to make up gaps in its budgets and pilot new initiatives. It’s the School Committee’s job to oversee the school budget, and I would like to urgently work toward a more sustainable, long-term plan for stable funding. Budget shortfalls are a constant concern. We need a more rigorous assessment of the use of one-time funding sources and how they relate to strategic initiatives so we can take cost projections into account for long-range budgeting.
For example, Natick has been fortunate to be able to use COVID relief funds to address some of the learning losses students experienced during the pandemic. The school district will decide whether some of these programs are still necessary after the original funding source expires, and if so, how to keep those programs afloat. It’s important that we weigh district needs against our funding capabilities very carefully, to responsibly manage the programs that help our students and educators thrive.