Friday, March 6, 2015

Speaking of the foundation budget

This is the chart you need to see how the foundation budget is underfunded:
You can click to make this bigger. From last night's budget presentation.

So what does this mean?
The foundation budget is based on budget categories: it says that to educate each given student, it costs X in each of the above categories.
What the chart above shows is the comparison between what the foundation budget for FY16 looks like by what the foundation budget would say we're spending, and what we actually need to spend.
Because the bottom two categories are so large, and because Worcester is funded just below the minimum foundation amount, money must be pulled out of the other categories to fund those two. 
It gives a much more realistic view of where the money comes from and goes than many other sound bites you may hear.
There are a number of horrifying percentages up there--maintenance at 63%?--but the real nadir of this is instructional materials and technology at 28.2% of foundation.
And yes, parents: that's why you're sending in reams of paper!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

EAW on fingerprinting

Len Zalauskas: asking you to put this in the budget, for all people who work for the WPS
"mirrors part of legislation of" MTA
opposed to being fingerprinted: "it's unsavory, at best"
"state found it in its wisdom to tie it to your licensure"
one time cost: $55 for licensed, $35 for those without
"that's real money for them, that's not a drop in the bucket"
"I understand the budget fairly well"
lack of investment in technology...state of Massachusetts has dropped the ball
idea to look at second look of enrollment figures
"not something we're doing in Massachusetts; we can learn from other states"
"in some fashions, it's ridiculous"
"request that the School Committee put in the budget" the cost of fingerprinting
referred to budget
O'Connell: ask that the state pay for costs, as mandated under Prop 2 1/2

FY16 budget

You can find this report here
Boone: Governor's budget was proposed yesterday afternoon
testified at Foundation Budget Review Commission hearing on Saturday
received many compliments on Worcester's testimony
Allen: time to begin budget preparation for next year, released yesterday
midyear budget cuts: quality K cut of $206,620 (addressed at midyear but won't cut IAs)
other (mostly summer) cuts of programs

FY16: enrollment increase, ELL and low income increase
third straight year of low inflation; five of six years also
continuing cost centers exceeding 'normal' inflation
60% from state, 30% from city, 10% federal
Chapter 70: $11M increase reflects enrollment
quality K eliminated
11 state grants bundled into a single grant program; "unclear how this will go forward"
end of RTTT, end of Burncoat redesign
assuming all other federal grants will be level funded
creates a $700,000 service gap
RTTT and School Redesign provide Level 4 school plans
it's also PD and wraparound zone coordinators (most of which have to contine)
Net School Spending: city's increase $1.66M most the city is required to give
"potentially a chance for the city to exceed" required minimum
total enrollment is up 497
ELL increase of 834
low income 696 student increase
"do provide additional funds in the foundation budget, but they may not be sustainable amounts in future years"
at 25,191 students 1.7% increase in one year; 5 year growth of 5%; 10% increase of 7 years
now equal to enrollment of 2003 before we closed 8 schools
using MSBA enrollment project shows continued increase over next three years (25,850 by FY17)
4,578 students were new this year; about half of that is new kindergarten students
2,284 ELL students were new to us this year; 3,524 low income students new this year
and low income students increased from start of year to end of year
"foundation budget commission was looking to see these sorts of changes" over the course of the year
likewise on ELL: increases over the course of the year
71.5% of students classified as ELL have been with WPS for five years or less

Total foundation budget for FY16 is $329,468,507 BUT THAT INCLUDES CHARTER AND CHOICE
Foundation budget per pupil rate
spending 55% of foundation rate on administration "and keep in mind that half of that" is city
spending 104% for teachers "and the amount provided in the foundation budget isn't adequate to fund" salaries (it isn't that salaries are high)
spend 28% on instuctional materials and technology
spending 63.8% on operations and materials
206% on employee benefits
303% on special education

inflation rate is 1.5%

increase of $14.6M over last year; but city increase is only $1.6M of that
city's required contribution is $98M
chapter 70 increase is just under $11M

budget appears to be increasing by $13M
city is still $3M under NSS in FY15, if city doesn't contribute above $1.6M, city will be $4M under due to carryover
with grant reductions
FY16 increasing in revenue by $11M going forward

Level service increases totals $13.3M
current average district class size of 22.1
with projected enrollment increase for next year, we'd have 18 classes of 31 or more students
would need $2.5M to keep 22.1 student average
projecting 114 student increase in middle school next year: need of 13 additional middle school teachers for next year: would cost $1.1M
projecting need for 43 high school teachers due to enrollment increases: $3.6M
BUT that doesn't address students in study halls: to reduce that, we'd need additional 17 teachers, or $1.4M
ELLcompliance: requres $3.8M due to student need
reduction of third party services for autism services needed: our own staff, have saved $3.7M (from FY13 and FY15)
projection of special education: 19 teachers, most at secondary level $1.8M
need for guidance, school adjustment counselors & psychologist, nurses
librarian, PE teacher, 2 clerical, office aid
annual allocation for secondary textbooks ($250K)
plus planning year for academy

Gap of $19M between what is needed and what we have for revenue
true deficit is about $2M (gap between level services and revenue increase)
BUT without more class size will be large, difficult in compliance, will not address student needs

"not anticipating any changes" for House budget
transportation contract to be considered on the 16
utilities contract working with city
out-of-district tuition
working on health insurance
level 4 costs (for those coming off plans)
additional capacity in special education

"just the start of our budget process, and by no means represents what we expect the final budget to look like in May"
using Seven Point Plan

Mark your calendar: May 8 WPS budget released

Update on North High

updating as we go
Boone: framework and beginning of an action plan

Proclaimation for the arts

The Worcester Public Schools Art Festival is in March! It's at the library! You should come!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Baker goes for round two on urban education EDITED AND UPDATED

Governor Baker released is FY16 proposed budget today, and BOY is there something in there that districts need to know about!
At the press conference, Baker said that they were combining eleven educational grant programs to support underperforming schools.
So I went poking around, and I found the following.
Baker's budget zeros out the following grants:
  • ​ELLs in Gateway Cities
  • Gateway Cities Career Academy
  • Bay State Reading Institute
  • Literacy programs
  • early intervention tutors
  • Educational quality and accountability
  • innovation schools
  • MCAS low-scoring support
  • statewide college and career readiness
  • alternative ed
All ten (and yes, he'd said eleven) of those are gone. Those are $14,766,000 in FY15 grants, most targeted at cities, at groups that need particular assistance, or at early ed (again).
>He then has merged those programs into what was the Targeted Intervention program, which he's terming "Partnership Schools Network." 
That account is being funded at $17,484,000 for FY16.

In order to GET the grants, a district has, not just to apply for the grant, BUT: 
no money shall be expended in any school or district that fails to file a comprehensive district plan pursuant to the provisions of section 1I of said chapter 69
 ...those are the annual district improvment plans...
provided further, that in carrying out the provisions of this item, the department may contract with school support specialists, turnaround partners and such other external assistance as is needed in the expert opinion of the commissioner to successfully turn around the performance of the school and/or district with preference given in such contracting to entities with proven records of success in establishing scalable and sustainable reform programs
So bring in the outside agencies. And who gets to pick them? The Commissioner. And it isn't just so-called underperforming schools:
 provided further, that preference in distributing funds shall be made for innovative and ambitious proposals that coordinate reform efforts across multiple schools, including schools that are not underperforming, within or across the jurisdiction of local education agencies, in partnership with other educational and social service agencies, including higher education, early education and care, and charter schools, and for proposals that demonstrate the support of local municipal leadership;
So reforming EVERYone (and you noticed the charter schools reference in there, right?)...They'll be judged, not surprisingly, on:
provided further that preference shall also be given to proposals that focus on promoting a high-level of student proficiency at fourth or eighth grade or college readiness at the completion of high school, especially with regard to low-income students; 
Hello fourth and eighth grade test scores (and college readiness? Is that a PARCC reference?). All of those grants above will be swept away and:
provided further that the department shall develop a consolidated grant application process to facilitate the coordination and integration of various other grant programs administered by the department, and other agencies of the commonwealth, in support of the innovative and ambitious reform proposals prioritized in this item
Block grant and it doesn't stop with this one:
 provided that up to 25 percent of funds from such other grant programs may be reallocated by grantees in support of the reform plan described in the consolidated grant proposal if the commissioner determines that the objectives of the reallocation are consistent with the general purposes and objectives of the original grant program and the reform proposal advanced in the consolidated application;
Up to a quarter of other grants you're getting for other stuff? You can toss them in, too.
And the funds won't all go to districts:
provided further, notwithstanding any general of special law to the contrary, funds may be expended from this item to conduct a sufficient number of school and district reviews to support the purposes authorized in this item;
DESE can use them to pay for things like Holyoke's review! And they want to know how many they got to:
 the department shall issue a report not later than October 1, 2017, and biannually thereafter, describing and analyzing all intervention and targeted assistance efforts funded by this item including the number of school and district reviews conducted in support of those efforts; 
The report goes to the Governor and the usual list of Legislative leadership.
And you can't have the grant at all unless you're prepared long term to pick up the costs yourself:
 no funds shall be expended on recurring school or school district expenditures unless the department and school district have developed a long-term plan to fund such expenditures from the district's operational budget at the conclusion of the grant funding period
And the state can have $1.3 million of this:
 further, the department may allocate funds from this item for the administration of the programs authorized herein, including no more than 7.5 percent of these funds for purposes of establishing a Partnership Schools Network support team 
There is a very good chance, if you are in an urban school, that you are getting and planning on some of these funds. In Worcester, we receive and depend on nearly all of them.

UPDATE: earlier I had included the Kindergarten Expansion in this. That was incorrect: that grant has been CUT ENTIRELY. In Worcester, that's nearly a million dollars, and it's how we pay for 19 kindergarten IAs.

This budget goes to the House. Make sure they hear from you! You can find out who represents you by using the search function at the top of the page here

Fully funding charter's in the law

This is worrying: while he was taking questions at today's press conference on releasing the FY16 budget, Governor Baker, when asked if the charter imbursement was fully funded, said, "It depends on where you sit."
No, Governor Baker, it does not.
Mass General Law, ch. 71, sec. 89 lays out how districts are reimbursed for charter school students. You can like it; you can not like it.
But either you funded it, or you didn't. That doesn't "depend on where you sit."