Friday, May 6, 2016

Open questions for Worcester on FY17

If the projected timeline holds, the Worcester Public Schools' FY17 budget should come out a week from today (here).

We got an answer, and a disappointing one, yesterday, to the question if the proposed building shift would be included in the FY17 budget: no, and because the incoming superintendent nixed it. When we heard last month that it was being dropped, I had wondered if that was budget-related; from the numbers involved, clearly not. In fact, a long term investment is being dropped in favor of an ongoing expanded expense.
This does not bode well.

Questions I have at this point:
  • Exactly how many of the projected 15-20 secondary teachers are going to lose their jobs, at which schools, and in which subjects? What is that going to do to the class schedules of kids next year? How many study halls are we going to have now? 
  • Where are those 1900 elementary school students who are going to be in class sizes of 27 or more? Are they (as I would suspect) concentrated in higher-poverty, higher-need (more crowded) schools?
  • What does "administration reorganization" mean? Are positions--I hesitate to even suggest it as it would be outrageous--being added this year, while we fire secondary teachers and send elementary class sizes up?
  • Are any--any?--student support positions being added? Guidance counselors? Adjustment counselors? Given the incredible mental health needs in this district...anything?
  • How exactly is the cut in special education going to be managed, given the high rate of need of the WPS population?
  • Does the budget calculate in the $3M in health insurance changes that it appears the School Committee (? or administration?) want to negotiate with the teachers in the new contract? 
  • What's going on with the International Baccalaureate program? I've heard rumors that there's an incoming attempt to instead retrench (which is exactly what it would be) further in AP. Will the IB position be continued next year? Will an innovation plan be put together, forwarded and approved by the School Committee, and advance to the state level? Will there be an incoming class for fall of 2017 in the proposed IB academy? 
  • Is anyone planning for what happens when the dual language program kids hit middle school (happening the year after next)?
  • What rate is the city going to charge on grants this coming year? City Manager Augustus lowered the rate last year and said that would continue; has it?
  • Who is paying for the expanded police presence at the Worcester Public Schools? Is the city entirely covering it, or are they loading it in as a charge against net school spending?
  • Is there an expanded security budget? For what, exactly?
  • What does the capital budget look like this year? Is the proportion of funding still completely out-of-wack in balancing city and schools? 
And, perhaps more largely:
  • is there going to be any effort to actually expand funding this year?
More as I have it

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