Town Meeting voted Tuesday night to approve the $46,200,514 public schools budget for fiscal year 2013, an increase of 3.5 percent from the previous year.
A portion of that money will go toward hiring nine new teachers throughout the district including two elementary teachers, two teachers at Kennedy Middle School to help reduce the seventh grade class sizes, two special education teachers to meet state requirements and art, language, engineering and physical education teachers at the new high school, which is on track to be completed in late June, according to Superintendent of Schools Peter Sanchioni.
Since 2006, the number of students enrolled in Natick Public Schools has risen by 486. Since 2009, only two classroom positions have been added. Currently Natick's schools have a total of 4,860 students, a number that is expected to rise by 383 by 2016 and 476 by 2020.
"The population is growing; Natick is a popular place to live," said Sanchioni. "It's a place families want to educate their children."
Even with the new budget, Sanchioni said there are still some things that are missing. There will be no union raises and there will continue to be large class sizes for band, music and physical education at Wilson Middle School and Natick High School will have a limited number of math, social studies and E.L.A. teachers.
"Our ceiling has not been reached, but we are on the path from good to great," said Sanchioni, who said the budget proposal addresses the schools' priorities.
In addition, Town Meeting approved $1,282,787 for Keefe Tech expenses.
The Town was able to reduce $851,000 from the original appropriation request by delaying the update of MS Office software ($85,973); through retirements, which allowed replacements to be hired at lower salaries ($135,781); electricity reduction ($23,572); reducing the number of new hires from 15 to 9 ($171,402); reducing principals' requests ($100,000); and through increased use of circuit breaker offsets ($334,805).
According to the Massachusetts Department of Education, Natick spends about $12,649 per student in fiscal year 2011. According to the most recent comparative numbers from 2009, the average spent per student in the entire state was $13,055, with Natick at $12,910.