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Framingham Schools budget frozen November 22, 2006
Tyler B. Reed 508-626-4423 Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM - Superintendent of Schools Christopher Martes for the second straight year has called for a hiring and purchasing freeze to close a budget gap caused by the rising cost of special education.

The school year is less than halfway over and already the special ed budget is running about $1 million over projected levels.  Special needs students are moving into town at a far greater clip than they are moving out, forcing officials to create new programs for them or pay their tuition to specialized private schools.  According to the district’s October enrollment report, 20 percent of Framingham public school students are identified as having special needs.

Under the new budget freeze, which Martes announced at Tuesday night’s School Committee meeting, retiring teachers or those taking leaves of absence will likely not be replaced and purchase orders will not be filled.

"It means anyone who puts through a purchase order to buy anything, we hold that,” Martes said. "We won’t do any purchasing."

Martes said he and other school officials might later consider staff cuts or close buildings earlier in the day to save money.  He said he and officials in districts across the state are hoping for financial relief from the state Legislature for special education or transportation spending.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Martes said he is freezing the budget early in hopes of closing the gap.  The budget could also get relief if the trend reverses and special ed students move to other towns.

"I’m going to freeze this budget right now just to be on the safe side,” he said Tuesday night.

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