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Already reeling, Brockton School Committee finds new $14 million deficit, as superintendent goes on extended medical leave

A sign outside of Brockton High School.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/file

Brockton schools were already grappling with an $18 million shortfall that’s prompted painful cuts across the district, including more than 100 teachers and staffers being laid off.

But late Thursday, Mayor Robert Sullivan announced the Brockton School Committee recently uncovered an additional $14 million deficit in the fiscal year 2023 budget, an extraordinary revelation just days before the school year begins.

Sullivan also said Superintendent Mike Thomas informed the committee he would be out on extended medical leave.

“Collectively, we are all dismayed by the situation and we are committed to ensuring that we will rectify this situation, appoint new leadership, and move forward with our strategy . . . to deliver the best schools for our teachers, our staff, our students, our parents, and of course our guardians,” said Sullivan, who also chairs the School Committee, in a prepared statement to the press.


According to Sullivan, Thomas did not attend Thursday’s meeting.

“The Committee is acutely focused on formulating and implementing a leadership plan that provides the support and services and the levels our students and families deserve,” he said.

Sullivan did not take questions from the press, and did not say what the budget gap might mean for students and teachers, or how it came about.

The School Committee met behind closed doors in executive session at Brockton High School for four hours in a special meeting while dozens of members of the public waited outside. The Committee will meet again Friday at 3:30 p.m. for an emergency meeting at the high school.

Brockton is among the districts across the country facing tough financial constraints as student populations decline and pandemic-era federal aid comes to an end. In Brockton, more than 80 percent of the district’s 14,900 students are children of color and three in four come from low-income families.


The district was forced to lay off at least 130 teachers and staff this summer as result of the previously known deficit, triggering protests from teachers, parents and students. And this fall, in a highly unusual move, Thomas, the superintendent, was set to assume the role of interim principal of Brockton High School, the state’s largest with 3,700 students, in addition to his duties running the wider school system.

Gamaliel Lauture, co-executive director of the nonprofit Brockton Interfaith Community, waited for hours alongside dozens of others in the parking lot of Brockton High School to learn why a special School Committee meeting had been called.

The public agenda said members were meeting in executive session to “discuss the reputation, character, physical condition or mental health, rather than professional competence, of an individual, or to discuss the discipline or dismissal of, or complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member or individual.”

Lauture said he was disappointed but not surprised by Sullivan’s lack of clarity about the $14 million deficit.

“We advocated for transparency and accountability on all facets of government and it’s something we are still waiting for,” Lauture said. “That’s money that’s unaccounted for.”

Deanna Pan can be reached at Follow her @DDpan.