Tuesday, May 12, 2015

"No reduction of positions and no loss of programs or services for students" WPS FY16

The FY16 budget is now out, and, having now had a chance to go through it, a few notes from me follow.
(Much of this can be found in the accompanying budget summary memo)

The above title is the first thing to know: no layoffs and no program cuts this year! Whew!
In fact, we're adding! The proposed budget adds:
  • 10 elementary teachers
  • 11 secondary teachers
  • 11 special ed teachers
  • 14 ELL teachers
  • fifth grade dual language teachers
  • a school nurse position
  • a full time (from halftime) librarian at Burncoat Prep
  • 3 school adjustment counselors
  • 3 custodians
  • 1 assistant principal, and converts a lead teacher to an assistant principal.
Notice that the above additions focus heavily on why we have an increased budget: increased enrollment and changes in enrollment, namely:
  • enrollment increase (Pre-K-12) of nearly 600 students
  • 834 more ELL students 
  • 776 more low income students
That's where the increased funding is coming from (remember, the inflation rate is only 1.5%). 

The budget also proposes boosting school safety's line item 50% and funding the arts magnet program an additional $10,000 (to fund their programs for the entire year). 
And--this is exciting--it takes $425,643 of district funding and puts it up for Erate funds, which brings back $5.1 million! The plan is for all new network switches, adding wifi access points to the schools with weak spots or no spots, increase internet connections (to 100MB for elementary, 1GB for secondary), and replace switched Ethernet with fiber, districtwide.

Of the total budget, 28.2% of it comes from the city; 58.2% (the largest section) is state chapter 70 aid.

The City Council hears the Worcester Public Schools' bottom line on May 26 at 4 pm. There is a (probable) Joint Meeting for a public hearing on the WPS budget on May 27 at 7 pm (we don't know where yet). The School Committee will hear the budget on June 4 and 18 at 4 pm.

As always, more to come!

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