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Community rallies for funding as Gloucester School Committee presents updated budget

Lexi Thomas
Educators and community members rally for school funding before the School Committee meeting

On May 22nd, Gloucester educators, students, and community members rallied together in support of a fully funded budget for Gloucester public schools, the topic of that evening’s School Committee meeting. 

The demonstration comes after budget revisions and proposals from Superintendent Ben Lummis and the School Committee. The overall budget process has been shaky, with the original plan announcing cuts to art programs as well as special education and Tier II supports. After receiving backlash from the community, Mayor Verga allocated funds to support the arts programs, but 2.1 million has been cut resulting in the loss of 25 positions. 

At the demonstration, community members across Gloucester and the North Shore showed up to support Gloucester’s need for a fully funded budget. GTA President Rachel Rex and GTA Vice President Matt Lewis respectively addressed the crowds of supporters, boosting morale for the upcoming School Committee meeting. 

“My position as a Librarian has been cut, which is upsetting,” Ardis Francour, the O’Maley Middle School Librarian and educator said. “I’ve been here for seven years and I started the program that I use from scratch.” 

In addition to running the library, Francour provides media literacy education to middle school students teaching them the importance of internet safety. 

“For the first time ever, people under the age of 25 are falling for scams faster and losing more money than people over the age of 70,” she said. “This is super important because we assume these kids are digitally literate when they’re not. So it’s upsetting to know that no one is going to be teaching this next year. The kids are upset because they like the class and they like me and they like the library so what’s going to happen next. I don’t have any answers for them.” 

At the School Committee meeting, Superintendent Lummis outlined the reasons for the recent budget increases, citing Special Education, Obligated Wages, and Health Insurance as the main drivers for cost increases. Out-of-district tuition and transportation costs also have risen for the 2025 Fiscal Year, with $7 million being needed for tuition, and $2.3 million being needed for transportation services. 

Lummis also highlighted that since the 2022 Fiscal Year, out-of-district tuition and transportation costs have increased, totaling $5,215,158 since 2022. 

Out-of-district placements were also discussed as a concern during the meeting, with Lummis explaining that during the 2024 Fiscal Year, the cost of placing 64 out-of-district students was $5.3 million. For the 2025 Fiscal Year, however, the cost for only 50 out of the 53 out-of-district placements costs $5.4 million, noting a large increase between those years. 

Lummis then went over the anticipated budgetary increases to maintain a level budget for FY25, with the total increase being around $3.9 million. 

The presentation also noted the one-time funding opportunities from the city, including the ARPA funding as well as the Stabilization fund. 

Lummis then went on to present how to create a fully funded budget for FY25, which included supplemental appropriation before the end of FY24 which titles at around $2.2 million. Added to that number, the FY25 fund request from the city of $3.9 million could bring the FY25 budget up to around $6.1 million. 

To continue services as they are this year, the school needs a fully funded budget. Based on the numbers coming from the city schools will face cuts, even with a level funded budget. Level funding gives schools the budget they had last year. Due to rising costs, a fully funded budget needs to be higher. 

Mayor Verga has yet to approve this budget plan, and is encouraging city council to vote against the fully funded budget request.  

During the public hearing Verga was urged by community members to fully fund the Gloucester Public Schools budget. 

“We were greatly disappointed in Mayor Verga’s comment,” said Rex. “Teachers are constantly asked to sharpen their pencils, to squeeze more, to bend over backwards to support our students. Stop the cuts. In the words of the late Cliff Brooks, ‘Do not balance the city’s budget on the backs of its educators’”. 

The school committee plans to vote and send this proposed budget to Mayor Verga to submit to the City Council on May 29th. The final vote for the budget will be held on June 26th. 


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About the Contributors
SOFIA ORLANDO, Editor in Chief
Sofia Orlando is a senior at GHS and is Editor in Chief for The Gillnetter. She is a member of the National Honors Society (NHS) and has won awards for her accomplishments regarding world history and journalism. In her free time, Sofia can be found baking, hanging out with friends and family, walking around town, or watching any of her favorite movies. She also has a fraternal twin sister! You can contact her with any questions or story ideas at: [email protected]
Lexi Thomas
Lexi Thomas, Staff Writer
Lexi Thomas is a Junior at Gloucester High School, and a second year staff member for the Gillnetter. She enjoys writing creatively and can't wait to regularly publish! When Lexi isn't writing or getting caught up on schoolwork, she has been a Varsity Cheerleader for the past three seasons with no plans of stopping! Lexi is also an aspiring photographer who has made many appearances at all-level sports events.  She is very excited to be a jack of all trades this year on the Gillnetter staff and can be reached at

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