Tuesday, May 27, 2014

WPS budget before Council: FY15 edition

posting as we go...
awaiting a quorum...
Petty: first session is Worcester Public Schools

allowing speakers from CPPAC before the hearing
Dante Comparetto: pretty frustrated by the proposed budget for the schools
"every year we've been asking for adequate funding"
44 teaching positions cut, class sizes already way too loud
over 250 signatures on a petition
"folks who are equally as frustrated as we are"
"consensus...cities...need to be emphasizing education"
second speaker: 20-22 student size classroom
student exploration, peer instruction, active learning approaches to education start to become impossible
"forced into old school teaching"
"not the kind of education that prepares people to be creative, thinking, problem-solving individuals we need for tomorrow's economy"

Mayor Petty: complement Education and F&O committee getting together
complement WPS admin: really being cooperative and understanding
"we did our best in trying to get together the funding that we could"
"we probably have a lot of people hear who agree with you"
"our job is to give X amount of money to the school department, it is the School Committee's job to decide where it goes...I don't think it's our job to get into each individual school and decide how they're going to spend the money"

Boone: comments that she's recovering from oral surgery
"a high-level overview and to talk about our process"
thank Mayor, City Manager, Councilor Economou,
fifth budget presenting to the city and the school committee
budget that "has the student at the center"
"a process that really drives the budget in that direction"
recession and the global recovery from that
Seven Point Financial Plan which she's reviewing
The FY14 budget won the Meritorious Budget Award
continued long-term planning...look out for several years
begin with a set of priorities, and what does it take to meet those priorities
a very transparent budget process
meetings with parents, students, communities groups, plus priority setting session with School Committee
"this budget is pretty much a maintenance of effort budget"
there is still a gap due to the FY14 budget, carryover to FY15 (it's $2.3 million)
meets FY14 and goes $1.1 million beyond that
"ninth grade class is the first to graduate under new more rigorous requirements"
nearly $14 million in increases, nearly $13 million in reductions
"important to maintain the academic core"
reduction in administrations and clerical, custodial
adding IAs to reduce third party payments
"there's a great process, not a great budget, but the dollars are what they are" (citing Allen)
schools still receiving accolades; "our results are speaking for themselves"

"better understanding of the funding mechanisms and the challenges facing us"
"really need to look at the state level and how the funds are coming back to the municipalities"

remembers closing schools
"budgets are organic" any changes coming from state?
Boone: (essentially, no, save possibility of charter school reimbursement)
Toomey: are we working from the some purchasing list for supplies?
Allen: yes, and we go through the state when appropriate
Toomey wants to grow local economy and so grown local tax base
wants a list of all schools kids get into (which Bergman suggested during the campaign, and I put on an SC agenda...)

having been on SC
"power of the School Committee has been chipped away...who controls the purse strings, controls the agenda"
more money coming from the state,
"not happy to hear that we need more and more reliance on other funding sources"
concerned that there was "name calling at the last rally which was at the last school committee meeting" (which it wasn't)
58% of our expenses going to education, 22% going to city services
asks Zidelis about OPEB funding
Zidelis: OPEB is not able to be counting towards Net School Spending
Lukes: how much is it going to cost us?
Zidelis: "back of the bar napkin math...gross contribution we should be making $20M, 60% would be public school employees"
Lukes: expenses which don't show up on the books
asks if walking to school has been considered
Boone: we already have in place a 2 mile radius for transportation; we do have a walking component
students with disabilities are eligible for transportation if their IEP requires it
School Committee has reviewed frequently transportation
"the city has to invest in economic development and education, because they go hand in hand"
transportation leads to stronger graduation rates (and lower dropout rates)
both houses of the legislature have approved a foundation budget committee
"great place to give voice to what happens in the budget"
only 32.5% of the city's actual revenue goes to education
I believe we are now going to have the annual call for cutting services to students...yup!
"seems slightly outrageous" to the public commitment to education
Boone: "I'm not going to pit one against another"
it has been my goal...transportation
too often "parents are considered not the same constituents as those who don't have children in schools"
"We need sidewalks and streets to be strong...we all need the same services"

graduate of WPS, teacher in WPS
"if need any evidence that the WPS are not being adequately funded,we just have to turn to the statement that 44 teachers will not be in the classrooms" next year
teachers will have a tougher time in the classrooms, students will have a harder time
which department is the most important department? often the answer is the school department
can't decide that one department is more important than the others
city budget "looks to me like a bare bones budget"
"we should probably have another hundred teachers"
Petty asks if he has a question...
"couldn't find money in the budget...I just don't see the money there"
"yes, I understand the more funding that comes from the state, the more control from the state"

"I will be brief"
"I hope Mr. Rosen doesn't expect me to stand up and say 'here's the money'"
"respect the budget you put forth"

effort of manager with superintendent and staff
they have done the best that they can
effort to merge services with the city side
asks what was done differently
Boone: shared purchasing that continues to do
"I think that there is an assumption that we don't do things together"
work with DPW
"we've continued to collaborate closely with city law department" doing all but special education and negotiation
was there something new we did this year?
tree removal via DPW
"I'm not micromanaging" but...asks about dumpsters (essentially his question is 'why not have the DPW just pick up the schools' trash?')
vehicle maintenance "in several other departments" (so, why not merge the city departments first, then)
Augustus: mentions One City One Library as a collaboration and use of city services
Allen: currently DPW is for fuel...use city departments where we can
"not sure we want high schools putting out yellow bags..."
which Russell didn't mean...EDIT later, though: I can't find in the City budget where they handle trash removal, which may have lead to Councilor Russell believing the city doesn't or isn't charged for it. The city disaggregates charges by department; is it part of "other charges and expenditures"? SECOND EDIT (thanks, Mr. Zidelis!): It's under "other personal services."
Russell: how was the WRTA Tech High bus done? Boone: donation

conversations on sustainable energy in buildings and reduction of waste?
Zidelis: solar projects in five of WPS buildings (in addition to Tech)
"Manager has us looking at a potential collaboration with regard to food waste"
"undertaken and reviewed currently"
Rivera: people don't know the great work being done with regard to this
support teachers as that supports our classroom sizes
asks Boone what is the core of reasons of losing the teachers?
Boone: two major drivers of the foundation formula: enrollment (which was flat) and inflation (which was .83)
plus decline in federal grants
in secondary: secondary teachers can teach up to 125 teachers a day, maximizing that number
did not lose any courses
state and federal funds to support summer programs

sometimes a disconnect between work done in WPS and perception of WPS
"my concern is that we're not spending enough money marketing"
"not only get a quality public school education, you've also immersed yourself with different cultures and different languages"
how to market that better?
Boone: we have to be intention about our marketing, don't have a mechanism by which we coordinate that
need a resource
take the best
"Yes, we've heard a lot about Worcester Technical High School this year, but if you look across the city..." you see great things
"we have to be intentional about a plan and communication that gets the word out there"
Bergman: this budget does not include any money for that?
Boone: this budget does not include any program expansion
"we have many, many stories to tell"
Bergman asks if the assessor could be at the WPS budget next year

"I figure since Councilor Palmieri isn't here, I'll take his five minutes as well"
"when free cash or additional revenues are to be had, the Worcester Public Schools will have their fair share"
individually, the power that public free education can have on a person's life
"struggles on both sides of the so-called school and city sides"
wants his annual "what five things did you cut" report
continue to strive to figure out and make more efficient
transportation: "a budget buster, so to speak"
"I do not share some of the" concern that if we cut transportation that if we cut transportation, children will not graduate
which is nice, but faith ain't gonna get us there, Councilor; the data doesn't bear it out. 
"major cities that have children take public transportation to school" and have a significantly better public transportation system to do so
"walk a little further"
"we have to have the mantra in our head that there are ways of cutting...no, of making things more efficient"
annual request for what you cut this year
"story to tell that should be told more and more often"
Boone: references page 15 of the budget book aka: you already have the report of 'what did you cut this year?'
notes that these are things that being looked at; more detail is not yet available
"I'd ask that you look at that, and we'll be looking at this over the next several months"
"the School Committee has not vetting the transportation audit; I think it would be premature for me to provide a report at that time"

Toomey wants a document for teams that could go on to championships elsewhere for funding purposes
Boone: A banner year for us academically and athletically
Toomey: glad that this is a problem

thanks Superintendent and team for all of their hard work
"while we couldn't provide all of the resources that all of us would want to, I think we put together a budget that had a fair approach to meeting all of the city needs"
unique perspective of being a city manager who was also a School Committee member

congratulations to superintendent and staff
extend appreciation to entire School Committee as well
"certainly one of the most difficult jobs in municipal government"
I double-checked that last; he really WAS talking about the School Committee! 

Motion to approve
account approved

No comments: