Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Joint meeting: UPDATED 2x

I didn't liveblog last night partly because they were both presentations we'd seen before (with the differences I note below), and also because it was pretty close quarters up at that long table. Somewhat annoyingly, the presentations are not attachments on the Council agenda or the School Committee agenda, nor are they on the respective budgetary pages. I'll have to see if we can work on that. UPDATE: WPS has it up now. You can find it in the Finance and Operations department under FY12.

On the presentations:
  • The Manager's presentation (notes from previous presentation here) had two changes from previously: he acknowledged that the increase in school funding is due to state law (thank you!), and he also went into the greatest amount of detail I've yet seen on the new insurance plans (and this is why it's a shame that it isn't up anywhere, because that chart is really important; but Worcester Magazine now has it posted.). The plan(s) he's put together are much better than we previously had seen (all we'd gotten before was news of a big, scary deductible), and that puts negotiating those in a very different light.
  • The Superintendent's presentation (notes from previous presentation here) had a few new charts: one that mirrored the city's cut history (for the city, 581 positions since FY01; for the schools, 461 since FY02...I should find out what happens if WPS adds the previous year...), and two that demonstrated that the increase in school funding has reflected an increase in funds the city has available (that's how the foundation budget is calculated, after all!), so at the end of the day, the schools are still being funded at precisely the same percentage of city wealth--29.2-- they have been, below the 30.7% recommended by the state.
On the comments:
  • It's time we had the Mass School Building Authority come in and talk to the City Council. I understand that it's an election year and that the west side votes heavily, but I promise you: there's no way that the state is going to think that Doherty is Worcester's highest priority for state funding for rehab. It just isn't going to happen. So long as Worcester wants state funding to help out with rehab and replacement, we have to go by their list, and Doherty's not that high up.
  • Having Councilors talk about adding an exam school whilst voting for the lowest amount of legally allowed school funding = irony.
  • Much conversation about GIC, GIC-like, what the Legislature may or may not do.
  • And I asked, understanding that this was not the year, but also seeing good years which apparently also were not the year: Under what circumstances would the city propose a budget that funded the schools at something over foundation? I was met with silence.


Neil and Joan said...

Tracy, will this new health insurance plan affect retirees? If so, do you know if it has an out-of-state option similar to the state's GIC? Thanks.

Tracy Novick said...

Joan, there is a BC/BS option. You'll want to look at the chart here:

Neil and Joan said...

Thanks, Tracy. I just looked but I am not sure what the NE means in the description. Since it is almost open enrollment time, I sure hope the City Manager respects other people's timelines and gets this info to affected retirees ASAP since he has already met with non=rep employees.