The $1.6 million budgetary gap between what the Falmouth Public Schools is seeking for the next fiscal year and what town manager Julian M. Suso has proposed is shrinking.
Mr. Suso provided that glimmer of hope to residents at last night’s selectmen’s meeting, expressing optimism that the gap could decrease even more, as he continues to sort through budgetary issues with school superintendent Bonny L. Gifford.
The town manager said the difference between his budget and Dr. Gifford’s is decreasing thanks to an additional $325,000 in Chapter 70 state aid for public schools that Falmouth is expected to receive next year.
Additionally, he said, the town’s health insurance budget, originally estimated to increase by 5 percent will only be increased by 2 percent next year. He did not provide a figure for how much this would mean, in savings, to the town.
Combined, these would help reduce the $1.6 million shortfall that was announced earlier this month when Dr. Gifford had originally proposed cutting 44 staff positions, including 15 teachers, to balance her budget.
As he did two weeks ago when selectmen approved the budget and forwarded it to the finance committee for review, Mr. Suso viewed the budgetary issue as one that could be solved as he continues to work cooperatively with Dr. Gifford. “We are working through this challenge and the gap is shrinking,” he said.
While town officials push for a municipal solution to reduce the gap, residents have started a grassroots effort to push a Proposition 2 1/2 override at Special Town Meeting to ask selectmen to place a question on the ballot in May that would permanently increase taxes to help fund the school budget.
Tonight a number of those residents supporting the override are expected to attend an official public hearing on the school budget at 6:30 PM at Falmouth High School.