Andover Public Schools would shift positions to offer more instructional coaching under a preliminary budget for the 2023-24 school year.

The Andover School Committee heard budget presentations Tuesday from principals and department heads for Superintendent Magda Parvey’s preliminary, $99.6 million budget recommendation, up 3.5 percent from the current year. The school committee will make a recommendation on the budget before it goes to Town Meeting in May for final approval.

In addition to the local funding, the district expects $12.5 million in state aid, up from $12.2 million this year. That number will not be finalized until Gov. Maura Healey finalizes her budget and submits it to the state legislature for deliberation.

Chair Susan McCready encouraged residents to email committee members or speak during the public comment period at a committee meeting if they wanted to offer input on the ongoing budget process.

Emphasis On Instructional Coaching

Parvey gave a broad overview of the proposed budget last month, but Tuesday’s meeting was the first detailed breakdown of the spending plan. Budget presentations on Tuesday put an emphasis on how changes from the current year’s budget would impact learning and district operations in the 2023-24 school year.

Among the changes students could see at the classroom level under next year’s budget:

  • Following the implementation of a new math curriculum this year, elementary school principals (main photo) told the school committee they wanted to add a full-time math coach to join the current team of four. The move would limit the sharing of coaches between elementary schools and would be funded through the attrition of existing staff.
  • Middle school principals want to create two, full-time instructional coach positions that would be shared by the three schools. The coaches coordinate with teachers to reinforce classroom instruction through co-teaching.
  • At Andover High School, Principal Caitlin Brown said she wanted to repurpose one existing full time position to create a 9th Grade Support Coordinator position. That person would help ninth graders make the transition to high school with a focus on academic, social and emotional development. “If they’re successful in ninth grade, they’ll be successful later on in high school,” Brown said.

Parvey said reconfiguring positions as requested by the principals would not impact class size.

Big Increase In Special Education Spending

The district expects special education spending of $7.8 million, up from $5.1 million this year. The increase includes legal settlements, but could be offset by as much as $1.5 million in “strategic use of the circuit breaker option.”

Director Nancy Koch said the increases were caused, in part, by changes in how the state funds special education as well as higher out-of-district enrollment fees during her Special Services presentation. The department is also seeing an increase in enrollment.

“Families are moving to Andover for Andover public schools and, in some cases, specifically for special services,” Koch said.

Other Budget Items Of Note

  • The business office budget presentation includes adding two school buses at a cost of $131,400 to address transportation problems that have been an issue this year. “It’s been better than it has been in past years,” Assistant Superintendent Keith Taverna said of this year’s bus service. “With transportation we’ll never get to perfection but — knock on wood — we’ve been in a decent stretch.”
  • The business office is also looking to implement an employee referral program to help hiring and diversity efforts in a tight job market.

Budget presentations from Tuesday’s meeting are available on the district’s Website.

Photo: Andover elementary school principals make their budget presentation to the Andover School Committee on Tuesday.

Video of Jan. 10 school committee meeting from Andover TV:

0:00:00 Call to order, presentation from middle school principals.
0:15:31 Presentation from elementary school principals.
0:28:01 Andover High School principal’s budget presentation.
0:38:20 School committee member questions on long-term planning.
0:50:10 Special services budget presentation.
1:33:25 Business office budget presentation.
1:45:28 Teaching and learning budget presentation.

Agenda for Jan. 10 school committee budget presentations: