Monday, April 28, 2008

Joint Subcommittee meeting: a few points

1) There's an attempt being made by the city administration and City Council to claim that next year's budget is over 102% over foundation when you include the savings from the health insurance changes (Councilor Toomey referred to it as "a matter of semantics;" Councilor Smith flat out said they were funding at over 102%).
It isn't 102%.
There's a reason that foundation is figured the way that it is, and, while the money that was before going to supply health insurance for teachers (itself a worthy thing) is now going directly to the classroom, there isn't NEW money coming into the budget. That's why it doesn't count.

And of course that doesn't include that the foundation budget doesn't include all it should nor that 102% is ridiculously low. Lower than Boston. Lower than Fall River. Lower than New Bedford.

2) There was some discussion of a seven page (!) memo regarding class sizes that has been put together by the school administration. Deputy Superintendent Mills, in addition to speaking to number shuffling that takes place at central administration, raised an important number:

Worcester has a 40% mobility rate.
With that, it's no exaggeration to say that the numbers you report today are going to be entirely different a week from now. It also boggles the mind, if you think of how that complicates anything else the schools do: teaching kids basic skills coming first to mind.

3) According to Deputy Superintendent Mills, we are dangerously close to supplanting our local funds with state and federal funds that are supposed to be supplementing our budget. If we do that, they'll take those funds away.

4) According to a number of different people who have recently spoken to state legislators, we are having more and more trouble making a case for more state funds for Worcester, as we are $12 million under our tax levy (that's the amount we could raise taxes without a 2 1/2 override).

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