Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Comments before the Council

...are here. And in full after the jump.

I am here to address Item 12C: budgetary adjustments and appropriations to finalize the FY2013 budget.

Mr. Chair, these budget transfers before you this evening assume a $2.5 million cut to Worcester's local aid.
This afternoon, Governor Patrick announced a $9 million cut, in total, statewide.
We know, I think, that the Legislature will not be cutting 27% of that $9 million from Worcester.
As such, the projections on which these transfers are based are now known to be incorrect. You have a chance still before you to correct these transfers based on actual—rather than projected—numbers.

Further, Mr. Chair, your budgetary memo backing up this item is incorrect with regard to the City's contribution to the Worcester Public Schools for FY13, as clarified in yesterday's memo from Superintendent Boone to the Worcester School Committee. I forwarded that memo to you electronically last night, and it is before you on your desks this evening.

Simply put, Mr. Chair, the number you were given ignores both Massachusetts General Laws chapter 70, section 6, which delineates what may and may not be included within the calculations of the community contribution to education funding, as well as ignores 603 CMR 10.0, section 6, which requires that funding not met in one fiscal year must be met in the subsequent fiscal year. As we were in deficit by $1,500,195 for FY12, that is carried forward. As it stands, we are in deficit for FY13 by $945,650.

I understand that the administration is disappointed that transportation is specifically excluded from calculations of local contribution by MGL Ch. 70, section 6. It remains the case, however, that the $546,000 increase in special education busing is required under those student's ed plans. We have a legal obligation to fulfill the terms of IEPs. The remainder of our transportation increase—a contractual one with Durham Bus Company—meet our legal obligations for transportation for public, parochial, and charter students, allows us to run our magnet programs, and of course transports students citywide to Worcester Technical High School.

I present this tonight, Mr. Chair, not from any ingratitute or wish for antipathy between our two bodies. On the contrary, I am impressed at the attention to the charter school funding gap, and I appreciate the suggested transfer on that count. I have found yourself and your colleagues on this Council attentive and sympathic to the needs of the schools. As such, I could stand by while your proceeded with an action you believed would more than meet your legal obligations to our students when it will not.
...when, in fact, it will leave you $417,123 legally in arrears.

And it is the case, Mr. Chair, that this is not something we “desire” to do, that this is not something we “would like” to do—it is something we are legally required to do.
It is, in fact, a bill to be paid, a legal obligation to be met.
It is one that impacts quite directly the stability of our community and its ability to grow.

I ask, therefore, tonight, Mr. Chair, that you and this Council to hold this item and those associated with it for a week. I ask that you request the administration to return with budgetary adjustments and appropriations that reflect the real, not projected, 9c cuts, as well as the real legal funding obligations this community has to the children of the Worcester Public Schools.

Thank you.

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