Wednesday, February 10, 2016

CPPAC: Mayor, Superintendent, and City Manager on budget and superintendent search

City Manager Augustus: appreciate all of your interest in the WPS
making sure your children's schools are reflected in the city budget and all the policies in play
have been and maintain a great love for the Worcester Public Schools
"so critically important"
rancor "has not happened since I've been City Manager"
have finite resources
ways we can work together, find economies, coordinate advocacy strategies
One City, One Library: fourth one will open in spring; Libby, Lilly traveling libraries
six after school sites: more than 200 kids showing up a night at Quinsig site
"none of that money is coming out of the Worcester Public Schools budget"
hope to continue to open in more sites in the city
importance of DPH working with WPS on flu vaccines
"not as us and them, but as one"
that's how we're thinking about the budget
"I have to think that I think the Governor did a very good job"
local aid has gone up, ch 70 has gone up
"there are bigger conversations going on about the foundation budget itself"
true cost of educating children in the Worcester Public Schools
based on Governor's budget: "I think we can assume the Governor's numbers are the floor and not the ceiling"
"those suggest the city of Worcester could reduce contribution to" WPS by about $700K
"makes no sense to me that we would do that"
"have made a commitment that we would do better than that"
will be something over minimum
have given $1M more than what was minimally required to WPS for each of past two years
(note: if the city gives $1M over required, and does so by not reducing the $600K or so allowed, that means the city contribution will only go up by about $400K for next year)
"now there's this other number, the net school spending number, and we're going to aim for: that's the North Star"
lots of other things we want; trying to balance all of these various things
city contracts: mid year 2% increases; increase in co-pays and deductibles
"way to try to balance things out"
WPS employees are "still paying old rates" (not true of all incidentally), could come up in contract negotiations
Q: if students are opting to other districts that fund well over foundation, why wouldn't you take the approach to fund beyond foundation?
Augustus: kind of the approach I've been trying to take; some think we should cut taxes
Q: recovery high school, but no transporation provided; limits access
could such funding happen? Rodrigues: affects more kids who live outside Worcester; only four are from Worcester
our students either drive themselves or we provide transportation

Rodrigues: school choice students leaving Worcester; not about asking city for more money
formula is so defunct right now, that we don't get the money that we need
state needs to make corrections to the formula, but billions of dollars
"our money is always one year behind; what drives the budget is the enrollment of the district"
FY17 is reflective of the students enrollment on October 1 (of this school year)
"no more students, no more money"
and inflation was zero
"we're going to start the year with the same income, but the expenses go up"
majority of budget is salary and benefits
typically about 1800 to 2000 students per grade level; layer by layer what services are needed
"always reinventing"
"if we have a gap in the budget, the money has to come from somewhere"
projecting enrollment for each school and each grade; needs by school
Q: is there anything in state budget that allows midyear growth?
Rodrigues: have projection of growth, "but realities is what we have"
this was the pothole account, which often doesn't get funded
Q: but how is it calculated?
Rodrigues: different layers of students provide different layers of money
Q: how much money do we lose to school choice? and can we end school choice?
Rodrigues: school choice is a state law: district can opt to take kids in, but we have no choice on kids leaving
Mayor: kids all leave for different reasons
Rodrigues: some parents choose Worcester because they work here; same scenerio
back and forth here about communication which led to people asking about the Twitter feed and Facebook page

Mayor Petty (on the superintendent search)
have asked if there's more money, to prioritize the schools
"I get more compliments in the last month in the communication"
City Councilors appreciate hearing every week
"we do so many great things out there, it gets lost"
"do a search internally...and not do a national search"
"lots of good people in the Worcester Public Schools"
public hearings last week, job description passed
job description went out internally today
Feb. 29, applications due; March 3, finalists selected
March 4 application materials will be publicly posted on website
March 7-11, finalists will be interviewed
March 14-16: meet and greet with finalists for public
can tell School Committee members what you think
"pretty much an open process"
March 17, selection of the superintendent
so next superintendent can start July 1
Q: can parents be involved, or is this going to be a closed process?
Petty: if it were going to be a national process, I was going to put a group together; with an internal process, there's just three or four people
Q: some question of if it meets equal employment opportunity regulations by being only an internal search?
Petty: will look at it tomorrow
back and forth here about appointments; all previous within recent memory were national searchs
Q to SC: why an internal search? "I was really taken aback...even if we have a really great viable candidate...what was the preciptating factor"
Monfredo: I didn't think we should spend $35,000, and if you look at the searches we had before, we had internal candidates, anyway
parent responds: how do we know we have the best candidates if we don't measure them against the best out there: "if we spend $35,000, and we have the best person here, great! But if we don't spend the money, we don't know that."

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