Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Public testimony (updating as we go)

updating as we go
testimony from Flagg parent: which is projected to lose three teachers, which would be moved elsewhere

"it's not as simple as basic math...impact on three grades"
some classes larger than others
another public comment:
"education over mass incarceration"
across the United States; keeping kids in school
Charlie Gruszka
what would 19 additional teachers do? all classes under 26 if there were space
is there space? Not everywhere
Chandler El growing at double digit increases; would have six classes over 30 if we didn't have spaces
budget provides funding for rental of space: bid is out right now; results will be known by second budget meeting of the School Committee
what if we had the teachers; how much more would we need to get the space?
can provide during budget hearing
Foley: some parents would rather have kid in class that is bigger, but with another person there
Gruszka suggests putting two teachers in those classrooms
"still a large number of classes from 23 to budget built on 22 in classrooms and fewer in classrooms like Worcester"
falling short in chapter 70 funding
what does the School Committee see as the elementary class size ultimately?
"not an accomplishment; a shortfall"
Allen: students are evenly distributed to make that an easy decision
foundation budget assumes you have 22; we're not funded on classes of 14 or 13 (when every school hits 26)
"unless we completely redistrict a school every year, there's no way to get to 22 every year: there's no way to do it"
Boone: an accomplishment during economic downturn; strategic
"truthfully, class size doesn't make a difference until you get below 15 students...potential for one on one involvement with smaller classes"
"class sizes are stabilizing when class sizes are increasing around us"
Foley: reality is that we don't control the revenue stream
aiming towards, doesn't make us very happy
Gruszka: school committee doesn't have a large say in the bottom line of the budget
"trying to understand what I need to communicate" to City Manager and City Council
not seeing where $5.53 is going...not seeing much increase in Net School Spending
"real issues will be discussed next Tuesday night when the City Council takes up the budget or when the Legislature takes up--if they ever take up Net School Spending"
if funding could be added, what would the school department say would be the three highest priority things?
Foley: "we have said general classrooms...teachers, IAs, instructional supplies"
Boone: classroom teachers for class size, and to expand course offerings (at multiple levels), elementary librarians, expand college and career readiness (vo-tech, magnets), staff ELL and sped, technology needs
Boone: we can't continue to have minimalist approach to education
can't continue to reprogram same dollars multiple times
public testimony
how does budget compensate for additional support for students and for parents?
minimal increase in support for students: focus on translation and parent engagement
I'll add here that the translation account is projected to increase by 200% next year
Rodrigues: over 75 translators on standby in over 30 languages
hundreds of thousands of documents translated every year
public: disparities in our schools
standard curriculum and pacing to allow for students who move within the district
will know in September if our first two Level 4 schools are moving out of Level 4
what are the pieces that worked there that we should keep? What can we do elsewhere?
teacher whose position was cut at Flagg
"when would you find out if you are getting additional state funding?"
"I love my grade, I love kindergarten, I don't want to leave"
If there's a final date where the state would be you have the money or you don't?
Foley: moving target; don't necessarily know where we'll in August; state is supposed to be done by July 1
Allen: twice this past year when we were provided additional funds
city: next Tuesday (though full budget goes through the following week)
state: usually making final adjustments by July
federal: we're stuck with sequestration (that was a paraphrase)
Boone: this is what happens when your budget is largely driven by state dollars: "we don't have the luxury of not waiting for the state" as other districts do
Rob Cohane: CPPAC co-chair
"I apologize in advance: this is going to be a boring financial question"
state going to cut local aid, consequentially going to increase Ch. 70; aren't meeting effort
Allen: "and I'm kind of offended that was a boring question: that's what we do!"
"simply a wash...easiest calculation...and I think it's that easy"
Cohane: "do we have a long-term plan for reopening schools (that closed) and do we have plan for the impact on our foundation budget the year we reopen the schools"
Allen: as difficult as it was to close those schools, it will be equally hard to reopen those schools
"issue around Chandler, there really was no closer alternative "
budget impact would be "any marginal teacher position, then principal, assistant principal, and then the aneclery" positions
starting to look at that; reopening would be possible
intent would be to give as much public notice and public comment as possible
FY15 at earliest
Mill Swan, Greendale, Granite Street, Harlowe Street, Millbury Street are former elementary schools that we have
"not as easy as taking mothballs out of a building and being all set"
Foley: pain on the family: not a set we'll take lightly at all
School choice question:
is there a particular grade that they're coming in?
kindergarten, but students that move out of Worcester can stay; seeing across the board
Boone: look at classroom by classroom; parents request not just choice in, but a particular school and grade
depends on space available
parents are responsible for transportation (for school choice either in or out of the district)
Boone: don't build our budget based on X number of students; don't promote that this is what's happening
enrollment numbers are very transparent
"if it's one student that will tip it, I can't keep it, because we don't have the positions to backfill"
Flagg parent:
technology question: 7500 computers
pretty much all computers replaced citywide
are they there for teacher use or student use: asks if we'd looked at more iPad carts
questions of resources: is there a cost savings of not replacing those?
Boone: "that's what you see in our technology plan"
"not looking solely to have a PC environment"
"some core functions that we have to have" them for
Allen: looking at some models within that allocation
district admin cut: what it was and how it's being covered
Boone: in student support arm, restructing...absorb the work of that person by restructing positions
how often does Worcester redistrict?
Foley: how often do we really redistrict?
"that would require us to take a much broader look at the area"
Allen: there was capacity in neighboring schools that could absorb those reductions
"it's not as simple as it was to would be a bumping effect across the district"
any way to work with enrollment while we're finding more classrooms?
Boone: have some really good and current information; will look at October 1 numbers
will come to school committee if we need to lease more space or have space through reopening buildings
Gruszka: the $27 million "major gap" memo
Boone: probably still accurate (but under due to inflation): areas are still the need
have made some movement on school nurses: adding another 3 nurses this year
I have not submitted that memo this year again, because "it cost me $1.3 million to get $350,00 additional from the city" last year
"will be restating to the Council and the Manager" next Tuesday
midyear hire creates a greater classroom interruption: used for one time when contributed mid-year
percentage of city budget that is contribution to WPS: actual city contribution is 27% of WPS budget
"open dialogue about where the dollars are and where they go"
"we have a revenue issue at the local, state, and federal level"
can't continue to absorb an 8% level of grants into our operating budget
Foley: 54% of the total cost of the treasurer's office, budget office, purchasing office charged against WPS budget
Gruszka asks what would be an accurate charge:
should you just stop applying for Medicaid reimbursement?
Allen: most districts are spending 114% above foundation; when you're under the required spending, when the funds that the city gave to collect the funds is no longer there...(hard to defend continuing)
Gruszka: where does Worcester rank among districts in Net School Spending?
Allen: lowest 2%
among Fall River and
Springfield is 2% above NSS
Gruszka: is Worcester still $10M under the levy limit? yes

And I think that's going to be it tonight: next up is Tuesday! City Council meets at 7 pm

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