Residents urge summer school for school committee

Jun 13, 2024

LAKEVILLE — A plea that the school committee not take a summer recess in the midst of the budget crisis it faces was echoed by many Lakeville residents at the school committee’s meeting on Wednesday, June 12. 

Resident Noelle Rilleau stated that, just like kids who need to make up work they didn’t finish during the year, the school committee should go to summer school. 

“I think you should all be going to summer school this year and don’t think you should be taking vacation,” said Rilleau. This is the mess that you’re faced with, and I think you should stay in session and get this straightened out.”

In early May, Freetown-Lakeville school officials confirmed an $800,000 budget deficit in the school’s budget for next year. 

A regional finance subcommittee requested an audit be performed to identify the root causes of the budget shortfall. School officials said the shortfall is the result of “clerical errors” such as budget subtotals not being added into the total budgets for certain expense categories. 

The audit request has received the support of the Lakeville Select Board. 

Rilleau’s request for school committee members to remain in session over the summer piggybacked off an initial suggestion made by Select Board member Lia Fabian at Town Meeting on June 10.

The school committee’s response left room for uncertainty as to how regularly members plan to meet over the summer. 

“We are committed to fixing whatever budget concerns there are. We will continue to meet as needed to make things right,” said School Committee Chair John Burke. 

Lakeville Select Board member Maureen Candito insisted on the urgency of the matter. In a letter read during the public participation portion of the meeting, she stated that the issue “cannot wait for the school committee to reconvene until after the summer.” 

She urged the committee to start coming up with solutions and to not wait for an auditor to get involved. “This needs immediate action,” she said.

The school committee also reached a consensus during the meeting to allow an audit to be done by a third party. Audience members voiced their preference that a third party auditor, and not the audit firm the school currently uses, be brought in for the job. 

The school committee delegated decision-making on who the auditor will be and where funding will come from to the regional finance subcommittee, made up of finance committee, school committee and Select Board members of Freetown and Lakeville.