Town Meeting votes in favor of Article 17 Sunday. Photo by Jennifer Lord Paluzzi

Town Meeting pushes back on proposed school budget cuts

By Jennifer Lord Paluzzi
May 1, 2023

Zoe Fife is not a registered voter — but the Concord schools student made an impact at Town Meeting Sunday afternoon as she spoke in favor of the school budget.

Fife was among multiple Concord residents who spoke on behalf of Article 17 on the warrant, which appropriated $45,191,176 for the school budget.

That allocation, however, faced opposition from the Finance Committee, which sought to decrease the sum to $44,429,832. That would have given the schools a net increase of 3.3 percent, while other town departments were seeing increases of about 5 percent.

Wilson Kerr, one of several parents who took to the microphone, said there was understandably a lot of emotion over the suggestion “to offer the same thing we offered last year costs more this year.”

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Laurie Hunter said the proposed reduction would create the following reductions:

  • District-sponsored field trips
  • Loss of a special education coordinator
  • Cuts of 2-4 tutors
  • Loss of a technology specialists
  • Elimination of a STEAM lab/data coordinator
  • Cuts to instrumental music at the elementary level
  • Cuts to professional development
  • Cuts to librarians shared across grades K-8
  • Potentially reducing bus routes to cover only students who live beyond 2 miles of their school, the state’s legal limit.

For many voters, preventing the school budget cut was the primary draw. Prior to the meeting, groups of students stood outside with signs urging the full funding of Article 17.

Maya McCabe, Abby Kirincich, Alba Calcedo-Martin, and Grady Flinn, all high schoolers, stood outside Concord-Carlisle High School before Town Meeting. The musicians were lobbying for Article 17, the school budget, fearing that cuts may endanger the music program at the elementary school level. Photo by Jennifer Lord Paluzzi

CCHS violinists Maya McCabe, Abby Kirincich, and Alba Calcedo-Martin, along with Grady Flinn, who plays viola, stood outside in the drizzling rain lobbying for voters to approve Article 17, full funding for the school budget. The quartet were concerned that the music program at the elementary schools would receive heavy cuts to the music program.

Stephen McCabe, Maya’s father, said his daughter recently played at Carnegie Hall.

“That never would have happened if not for the program at the elementary school level,” he said. 

Town Meeting also approved $55,552,181 for the town’s FY 2024 operating budget, a 5 percent increase over the current year, and a total of $5,825,000 for the capital budget.

The meeting adjourned after approving Article 23. The meeting reconvenes at 7 p.m. Monday, May 1 at 7 p.m.

The full results from Town Meeting can be found here.