Finance subcommittee discusses new grants and international student enrollment



On Dec. 15 the School Finance Subcommittee discussed how COVID-19 might impact international student enrollment, new gifts and grants and the town’s budget.

The School Finance Subcommittee convened virtually via Zoom on Dec. 15th at 5 p.m. to discuss the situation of student enrollment next year, grants and gifts that were received this year and the allocation of funds in the town.

Brookline School Committee (BSC) member Mariah Nobrega said the current situation regarding the Omicron variant has affected and will continue to affect international student enrollment in the schools.

“We’re just hearing two weeks ago about borders closing again in some countries in response to omicron. It seems to me that we are certainly still in a situation where there’s a huge amount of moving parts around visas and international enrollment. That aspect still is very much something where we don’t know when that’s going to change and we wouldn’t want to short students for the upcoming year,” Nobrega said.

The subcommittee also reviewed the grants and gifts that were offered for the town, which are funds that are given by different programs to the subcommittee. They received one anonymous gift for the Heath School wear and two separate grants, one federal and one state.

Co-chair of the BSC Susan Wolf-Ditkoff said the town should implement a position targeted at finding grants. This job would include looking at emails, scouting for grant opportunities and reaching out to different programs that match what the subcommittee is looking for.

“I’m wondering whether this can be carved out as a part of someone’s job, since it usually pays for itself pretty quickly. They would be scouring eligibility criteria and working with knowing the district well enough and being able to look at different federal, state and local flows and trends of programs,” Wolf-Ditkoff said.

Much of the meeting was spent talking about various budgets. Among the topics discussed was the installation of an air conditioning system at the Baker School and a larger sum of money in the town’s reserves. There was also discussion about the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). Deputy Superintendent Samuel Rippen said there are many things that the CIP requested be funded but did not receive this funding.

“$75,000 for a study on the rehab and reuse of Baldwin, not funded. $400,000 for the study of the park renovation at Lincoln, not funded. HVAC equipment was $450,000 and we got nothing,” Rippen said.

BSC member Helen Charluspki also said the budget has risen every year, so there is an expectation that it will increase this year as well, which could assist town funding. Charlupski said the budget has always increased by at least 2.5 percent each year.

“What’s important to understand, and for us to make clear, is that if we look from an all-funds perspective, the percentage growth is pretty standard year to year,” Nobrega said. “We’ve had federal funds offsetting the budget in the current year that aren’t there for the next year and that’s some of the challenge. There was a relatively large year to year town growth.”