Friday, April 5, 2013

A bit on my priorities for FY14

Besides the question (below) of administrative costs charged against Net School Spending, I had a few other priorities that I set out last night:

  • When we talk about class size, we have to talk not only about teachers; we have to talk about space. We are out of space, and our enrollment is growing. We're projecting 6 classes of 30 or more at Chandler Elementary next fall, none of which we can currently split, because we have nowhere to put them.And that's just at one school. We have to find space, and we have to be clear to the Council and the City Manager: rental or acquisition of space does not count towards Net School Spending. We need to do it anyway.
  • Facilities spending, we learned last year when we did the comparison, is 67% of where the foundation budget says it should be (and that number is probably outdated). We're holding the system together with "bubble gum and bandaids" and that only works so well. While spending money on spackle and light bulbs is not glamorous, it is absolutely necessary. Not only is it necessary for us, it is the Mass School Building Authority who asks, as part of our moving to feasibility  what we spend on facilities. If we want 80% reimbursement on new and rehabbed buildings, we have to start spending more on the buildings we already have.
  • Facilities aren't just about the buildings: something that this administration (thankfully!) is recognizing as a responsibility is playgrounds. Right now, our playgrounds are undergoing a full review for safety and repair needs. Fixing them is going to cost money.
  • Likewise, technology needs to be seen as not just an "extra," but viewed (as was said at the MSBA board on Wednesday) as another utility, like heat and lights. It needs a constant level of spending.
  • While we are tackling MassCore for the life of the mind, the life and health of the body concerns me. We need gym class to be not a quarter here or there in high school, but something every student has year round.
  • Libraries and librarians. They aren't optional. Moreover, there are districts, I am told, that are facing challenges by the state when it comes to getting their buildings through, because they don't have staffing for their libraries.
  • Finally, it's shameful that we have people who work for the schools full time who have to be on public assistance to get by. Our IA's deserve to be better paid for the valuable work that they do. 
We'll be getting the budget in the next month or so (first week of May-ish). I'll do a post later today on what we know of the budget at this point.

No comments: