Wednesday, March 9, 2016

CPPAC talks budget

at the Worcester Public Library tonight for an update on the FY17 budget at both local and state levels
starting tonight with Brian Allen 

Allen: outlined where we see WPS being next year
slightly updated from presentation given to School Committee in February, based on Governor's budget
flat foundation budget enrollment & negative inflation
there is a one time adjustment in low income to economically disadvantaged: note that Worcester benefits from that change, but it's a one time advantage
certain costs continue to exceed normal inflation
"at the end of the day, when all is said and done, we may not know our final budget until July" when the state budget is set
state budget: Quality K & charter school reimbursement changes
61 cents of every dollar is from the state; 28 from local; 11 cents from federal grants (=WPS budget)
per pupil enrollment of previous year determines budget
enrollment similar to what it was in 2003 (2004 and 2007 closed 4 schools, each); eight fewer elementary schools than we had then

enrollment is relatively flat, but number of ELL students continues to grow: up 616 from previous year
economically disadvantaged drop 3575 students BUT the weighted per pupil amount
=$3.1 million increase
"most of our increase is solely" this change (for Worcester)
there are other districts that substantially have lost money in this

second time in history, negative inflation rate
ch. 70 going up $3.7M
change in charter school reimbursement, "roughly level funded"
city has pledged to increase funding by almost half a million
less charter tutition 300K
total budget going up by about $3.5M
and these numbers aren't the same as they were in February...there's an additional million here...
AH! We went from the city reducing its spending by over half a million, as it could, to it committing to fund at a half a million over

now running through school by school needs

with no staff added the citywide average would go up by 1 child
but 11 more classes would be 27-30
with 36 more teachers, no classes would be above 26 students

gap of $20M between what needs are and what resources are
does not include anything from safety committee; does not include anything from advanced academy

FBRC: health insurance, special ed, ELL, low income
foundation budget allotment exceeds by 140%
does not factor retiree health insurance
WPS spends about $12M on retiree health insurance, which was never included in foundation budget
WPS gap of health insurance is nearly $30M
"and this is after, many years, a lot of discussion" of plan changes, changes in contribution rates, and so forth
districts spend "far more" on out of district by 59%
and in district by less than actual population
"even by doing what they are proposing doing in the foundation report, they are underfunding" sped by $700M
gap in Worcester is $30M on special ed
"Worcester, like most urban districts, is funding right at foundation...we live and die by what's in foundation"
non-special ed teachers: we should have 661 more teachers than we do
"just imagine what we could do with 661 more teachers in our classrooms"

ELL increment for middle school students

low income: looked at successful turnaround efforts (like in Worcester: WPS said $2000/student)

inflation factor skipped in 2010 (used 3.04% rather than 6.75%)
"one way to provide, particularly to urban districts, some additional chapter 70 aid"
there are some who are interested in exploring it further, particularly in the House budget

impact on Worcester could be $93M

And right about then my battery died. However, Senators Chandler and Moore were there to talk about the state budget: crucial, as most of the schools' funding comes from the state, and any discussion of the foundation budget needs to happen there. There was quite a bit of coverage of there being a lack of revenue, some discussion of the level of interest across the state on adopting the Foundation Budget Review Commission's findings (check the Suburban Coalition's front page for the list which needs to be updated daily!), and related budget discussions. I'd say there some advocacy needed at the state level on this.

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