Friday, May 13, 2016

WPS budget is posted!

 And it's the first time the announcement has come this way!
The link in the tweet works; the budget is here

Here's the opening paragraph:
The Worcester Public Schools is underfunded in the current foundation budget formula in the areas of health insurance, special education, and the skipped inflation adjustment in 2010. The district enrollment is relatively flat from the previous year causing no foundation budget growth due to enrollment. The foundation budget inflation factor is negative for only the second time in twenty-four years causing no increases in Chapter 70 foundation aid. The Governor’s and House of Representative’s proposed budgets provide additional funding for a change in the definition of low income and economically disadvantaged resulting in the total of the district’s Chapter 70 aid increase of $3.8 million. 
I think that may be the darkest opening paragraph I've read in a budget (and I've read them back into the 90's). We did know that this was coming.

For those who were laying odds, Superintendent-elect Binienda's name is on the budget.While there may as yet be no agreed-upon contract, the superintendent's salary is budgeted for $200,000. That's an increase of $6000 over Dr. Boone's final salary last year, which is interesting, given that the incoming superintendent has no experience and no terminal degree.

The following major points jumped out at me just from skimming (per my open questions):
  • the administrative restructuring drops three positions, due to retirements, and adds two positions: a Manager of Curriculum and Learning, to whom the curriculum liaisons will report, and a Manager of Instruction and School Leadership, to which (if I'm reading the org chart correctly) the current Quadrant Managers will be also changed, making two for elementary and one for secondary. Budgetarily, it's a bit of a savings, due to the length of service of those retiring this year
  • the secondary cuts came in at nine positions with, the budget says, no change in course offerings. The changes are as follows: no changes at UPCS or Forest Grove. Burncoat: up a history, down a language, up a science thus +1; Claremont: down a special ed thus -1; Doherty: down a science thus -1; North: down a history, a language, a health thus -3; South: down an English, a math, a language thus -3; Tech up a .4 language thus +.4; Burncoat Middle: down a math thus -1; Sullivan down an English, a math, a language thus -3; WEMS down a math thus -1. And that may be missing a half I missed somewhere. I haven't done the elementary; those are supposed to net out to zero change over the district, but there will be school by school changes.
  • Elementary class sizes will, as projected, have 72 classrooms of 26 or more students.
  • Dual language increases to sixth grade.
  • No increase in support staff
  • Overall, there is a drop of 4 special education teachers.
  • There is a cut of three preschool classes; I didn't check the school by school budgets to see where yet; I'll update once I do.
  • Alarmingly, Mr. Allen is projecting charter school reimbursement at 36%. Remember, that's based on the House budget, which cut the charter reimbursement from Governor Baker's budget, while not tying it in the same knots.
  • The IB coordinator for the planned Advanced Academy is still there. 
  • Per pupil instructional materials is still being funded at $68/pupil with $1/pupil for recess in elementary schools.
  • Security guards are still being funded, and there's a 20% increase in that line item.
  • There's an increase of over $100,000 in the rental line item, due to the increased rental of space at the Y for Chandler Elementary, since the building plan was nixed.
  • While the overall regular transportation budget is only increasing by 1%, due to the capital budget from the city continuing to be level-funded, the district cannot replace district-owned school buses at the rate needed. The district thus is renting three more special education buses than last year. And, as the capital budget is again level-funded this year, expect that to go up again and again. 
  • Health insurance is going up by 6%.
  • Workers' comp looks like it's probably still underfunded by about $300,000.
  • Facilities remains, with exception of trash, level funded, which it's been since the beginning of time...
  • In about the only bright spot in the budget, the school nutrition budget is going up for next year by about an overall 15%, due both to increase reimbursement and to increase participation. That would be Community Eligibility working! 
AND the mysterious increase in FY16 funding? Check out the city contribution schedule on page 406 (of the online PDF): you can click to make this bigger; I've got to change the margins on postings...

The big change last year was, indeed, the police being added to the schools. From just over $400,000 in FY15 to $762,914 in FY16 and projected for $778,172 in FY17, the city-assessed cost of police in the schools has nearly doubled over the past two years. That isn't the full cost; there's still $120,000 in the Supplemental Program Salaries, as well.
This year, there's not only the continued jump in police charges, but there's also an increase of almost $100,000 in administrative charges.
As always, those aren't costs the school committee votes on; they're charges the city levies against the school department, over which the school department has no say.
Thus the "over foundation" portion of the WPS budget is coming mostly in city administration and in policing.

The City Council hears the Worcester Public Schools' budget at their May 24 meeting; the Worcester School Committee budget hearings are I believe, as they aren't posted, June 2 and June 16.

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