Saturday, March 22, 2014

Notes on the March FY15 budget update (or "the bad option and the even worse option")

I thought it would be useful to give a bit of an overview of what the March update looks like.
There have been two major changes from the information that we were given in January:
  • Updates from the state have changed the federal grant projection; now projected NOT to be subject to 8% cut under sequestration, a $821,248 positive change.
  • Also, WPS is projecting a budget in which the city MEETS Net School Spending requirements: a $2.75 million change in foundation (that's the gap reported out late last year), plus a $660,000 non-foundation addition.
This is thus anticipates a $4 million addition--nearly all due to meeting Net School Spending--to the revenue available from last year

While we still need $27 million in increases, administration is now, thus, projecting a $23 million gap.
(Do note that this rests on the assumption that the city will AT LEAST meet its minimum obligations.)

The first proposed solution to this continued gap is to defer all of the following needs, all of which were requested by principals:
  • 16 elementary teachers to deal with class size
  • 11 secondary teachers to handle course choice and selection needes
  • 5 special education teachers to appropriately serve that growing population
  • 9 English Language Learners teachers to appropriately serve that growing population
  • 19 Instructional Assistants to assist with special education students and others
  • 19 tutor positions to give individual and small group assistance to students
  • 6 school-based clerical for registration, parent, and other front office needs
  • 2 school nurses for better coverage of schools
  • 6 assistant principals to appropriately staffing schools
  • 4 instructional coaches for assisting teachers in professional practice
  • 3 credit recovery computer lab staff for students who are completing their studies despite earlier issues
  • 2 school safety for security reasons in schools
  • 1 wraparound coordinator to extend that service to another school

It also requires deferring:
  • assistant principals in elementary schools that currently do not have them full time
  • instructional assistants in every kindergarten classroom
  • needed school safety equipment
  • overdue maintenance on elementary school playgrounds
  • upgrades to wireless technology to better cover schools
It will also mean that we do not plan this year for any sort of exam or selective admissions school.
WPS will also not fund the Other Post-Employment Benefits trust fund for this year

All of that still leaves a $7.6 million budget gap to cover, though.

To cover that, there will be restructuring and reductions in every department and restructuring, reducing, or eliminating of programs throughout the system.
It will also require the loss of:
  • 11 tutors
  • 20 elementary teachers
  • 6 middle school teachers
  • 14 high school teachers
With those cuts, the number of elementary school classes projected to be between 23 and 26 will jump from 211 citywide to 235.
At the secondary level, as Mr. Allen said on Thursday, there would be fewer options available for individual students in courses due to loss of courses in the full school schedule.

All of the above is with a projected meeting of Net School Spending, however; should the city not fund up to Net School Spending, the following additional cuts would be needed:
  • 11 elementary teachers
  • 16 middle and high school teachers
  • 2 school nurses 
That would have the effect of raising the number of elementary classes between 27 and 30 from 53 to 70 citywide.
At the secondary level, as Mr. Allen said on Thursday, it would mean the reduction of some sections, the elimination of some courses, and loss of some Advanced Placement courses.

It would also cut $5 per pupil from the instructional budget, bringing back down to $63 dollars per pupil.
It would mean the loss of all community school funding.
It would also cut all athletics (and as Superintendent Boone commented on Thursday, she doesn't do that lightly).

Quick reminder here from me: WPS has two major revenue sources, the city and the state. The state pays for 70% of the school budget.

I have embedded below Thursday night's presentation by Superintendent Boone and Mr. Allen giving this update.
As always, more to come.

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