Thursday, June 2, 2016

Worcester Public Schools FY17 budget hearing (June 2)

The budget is here. The sequence in which they'll be taking accounts is here
Updating as we go once they start...

present: Petty, Foley, McCullough, Colorio, O'Connell
Superintendent Binienda is not here.

Instructional materials
O'Connell: options for purchasing textbooks absent funding
Allen: we'll wait til the final state budget is approved; return what the final charter school assessment is and make a recommendation to the school committee subsequent to that; typically funding needed for charter assessment; if not, either textbooks or class size staffing
Monfredo has come in
O'Connell: revisit again at first quarter
Binienda now here
Colorio: concern with additional textbooks at this moment: if ballot question passed, wouldn't it be prudent to put a pause on textbook purchases at this point?
Allen: set aside for charter school assessment
Foley: $10/pupil reserved?
Allen: yes, practice for 12 to 15 years now

Misc education OM
Monfredo: building and parking lot rentals: see any plans to reduce this?
the building shuffle, which Monfredo opposed, would have
Allen: special education bus lot; other space to be used at that time; $200K of this account
reconfiguration of buildings related to Chandler Elementary three years from now as well
Foley: recuse self from rental of Y
O'Connell: expenditures in safety this year $250K; $75K for this coming year
is that enough?
Allen: city's capital budget will include additional $250K for school safety equipment
training and practices in buildings: not necessarily a cost in budget
maintenance and such in budget
capital equipment: coming from city
O'Connell: with city funding, expanding funding over current year
with plans for training, expanding safety plans for coming year
Biancheria: great news, appreciate what we're hearing this evening
dues: for FY16 dues was $86K
Allen: budget for FY17 is $49K; for FY16, prior year payment for NEASC dues is why it was $86K
not adding additional memberships
Biancheria notes move of alternative ed out of account
instructional technology: still looking at a budget that is over $1M ($1.2M)
Allen: this number really will be a permanent number in the budget: five year lease on computers
about 7500 computers in district presently
Biancheria: when we lease, do we have outside vendors come in to repair, or are people in house?
Allen: in house repair techs, but not only on PCs
Walden: five year lease on computers, can choose to have them mail parts and install them
Biancheria: company does not send in staff members to repair?
Walden: they do not
Biancheria: school safety
recommendations were quite expensive; priority of mine
interested in what we're looking at for our future in our schools
looking at a plan for 2017: developing plan?
Binienda: meeting with 15 schools that GoodHarbor did evaluation of
sheet : what they can fix, priority to work on
all schools will have cameras; some of money will pay for installation of those
increased walkie talkies by $50,000
setting up schedule for template of what needs to be done to make those schools safe
staff development; meeting with chief of police next week: looking to decide if they're going to do ALICE or a hybrid of that mention of public discussion on that one...that's a policy change...
Biancheria would like to see an additional $25K, "to make it an even $100"
other challenges, like class size, technology, need to look at safety
"can't depend on the city every time"
comments that school safety was $20K in FY13 (in this line item; substantial funding in facilities budget)
Biancheria should I make a motion for additional $25K?
O'Connell: recommendation from administration on where additional $25K should come from?
Colorio: instructional technology line item: when did we enter five year contract?
Allen: second year
Colorio: want to get some perspective: when we had our own equipment, we had our own people fixing our things as well
Allen: repair techs repair more than computers
not just repairs to these leased computers; support around these other equipment in the schools
Colorio: don't understand why we're having "all these problems with computers" when they're leased
what was cost of line item when we owned our own?
Allen: technically it was zero, purchase was through next line item and through capital budget as well
lease was phased in through year
$300K on refurbished computers on a ten year cycle
Colorio and repair cost was more less?
Walden: eight technicians as before
about 900 computers per technician
"we all know that things happen...people do things to computers"
we're always going to have computer techs out there
"was way under and it was not working"
have now 2700 iPads in district; hundreds of document cameras
Office 365 implementation
level of service has gone up; downtime on computers has gone way down
Colorio: do you expect this to go up with rollout of MCAS 2.0
Walden: talk was PARCC when we started lease
MCAS 2.0 can confidently say that if they announced the requirements now, we'd meet those requirements
"we're always going to have fairly modern computers in the district as a result of this lease"
constant stress for computer lab space
concern would be how long the test takes; what space is needed for how long
Colorio: how do we decide on memberships?
Allen: during budget process, look at memberships which ones are ongoing, which ones way be new, considered during budget process
Monfredo: can we cut $5000 from moving?
Allen: get large donations of furnitures and equipment to the extent that we can't do it internally
"we could forego the donations and just not accept the donations"
Monfredo does not make the motion
Foley: recognize funding from city for safety
foundation budget has significantly underfunded Worcester
"if we're going to make any movement at all...I would encourage my colleagues to look at the teaching side"
"we're not going make many inroads on instructional materials...I'm going to vote wherever I can, to put more teachers in the classroom"
Binienda: grants for school safety; not necessarily take money out of the rest of the budget
Monfredo: look at every dollar we can save
"by and large, this is a good budget"
need to keep foundation budget in the forefront
"need to shoot for 1%" on grants; 50/50 split on Medicaid reimbursement
need to move forward on both ends
O'Connell: motion for additional $25,000 for safety
Foley asks for a roll call: 5-1, Foley opposed
sections pass

Personal services
Biancheria: increase in class development?
"maybe it's an area that we as school committee members need to ask a few more questions on what is being done"
how is it, what is being done, how many it is impacting
compliance training for non-instructional staff
Allen: can provide in a report
Biancheria: legal and settlements: how much money was actually moved around in FY16?
Allen: anticipated spending $531K, spent $478K
"we are comfortable with our needs for next year"
Biancheria: use of DCU "is that at no cost" for graduation
Allen: we are, can provide a detailed breakout
Biancheria: their board discussed that they did have community days
Allen: $33,700 is for DCU
Biancheria: security guards, have mentioned that they're outside the building; have noticed them mostly inside; asks for an edit in budget on that
arts consultants: some terrific work done
translation: "I know we are required. I know we have many rules and regulations...however, we seem to spend a great deal of money on translation."
"are we looking for the best means for translation?"
"I'm not anticipating that we're going to have enough, because we never do"
Rodrigues: have not evaluated nationwide
have worked very closely with districts in Massachusetts, have different modalities with how to deliver services
look to see if we could have a blend of services, but cost was prohibitive
required by DoJ and state law to provide services
required to communicate with parents daily; for special ed meetings, and so forth
"each year brings a different type of costs for translation services"
Biancheria: "yes, we're required to do it, but there has to be some other system somewhere so we can save some money"
Monfredo: notes mentoring zeroed out: is mentoring happening?
Binienda: "I'm not sure what mentoring program this is..."
Allen: this is contractual language for teachers; was moved to salaries for teachers account
Binienda: right now there are mentors that are assigned to new principals, have come through Teach 21; going forward for next year the plan is to keep that mentoring program through them
talking up a mentoring center through WSU and Clark: need a year to get it started
Foley: translation: "I don't think anyone likes the expense side of this year, but we are a diverse district. Parents need to understand what is happening in schools...we're probably not doing enough"
"I wouldn't want to be part of any vote that would cut" translation services
have heard mixed reviews over the effectiveness of the security guards; can look at how they are functioning and how they're interacting with WPD
Colorio: would like more detail on teacher content training
Biancheria: "we're looking at financial dollars in a budget...I'm well aware that our community is very diverse...I think it's very exciting to see that and to hear it...what I'm asking is to open our eyes and see if we can see some dollars"
O'Connell asks that trial court translators be circulated
Foley asks for roll call on translation motion (looking at costs) 5-1
account passes

special education ($17.4M)
Colorio: out of district vocational
Allen: Norfolk Ag, generally they study equestrian sciences
Colorio: how many students in Gateway program at QCC?
Allen: 2 or 3 students; pro-rated by days in program
Colorio: update on success of Gateway program in rate of students graduating
O'Connell: assessment for collaborative charge
Allen: one category is for non-special education service students
have been meeting with collaborative as needs as a sending district
have been participating in their budget process
alternative ed was moved into this account; level funded "for the purposes of the budget"
"I'm fairly that we've spent as much time on their budget as we've spent on ours"

Instructional Assistants ($16.6M)
Monfredo: this is woefully underfunded
"if we look at the preschool program, I'm somewhat perplexed that there was a reduction in the program"
are we doing outreach?
Binienda: "That's a really good suggestion; we look at how we do that"
"maybe look at tuitioning people in"
Biancheria: notes that Monfredo referencing page 11 shows that they read the book
three preschools cut for next year?
Allen: based on declining enrollment from previous years, still allows seats for this year
"I don't believe we're overcutting in this area"
Biancheria: office aides: CORI check is in HR? why listed here?
Allen: it's an IA position, so listed here; though in the HR office
Monfredo: would like a follow-up on what district is doing to recruit preschool students
Colorio: how many K IAs?
Allen: 63, with fairly level enrollment
birthrates continue to be strong, not predicting any decrease at this time
Colorio: "these IAs are tremendous!"
Allen: Senate budget essentially eliminated quality K: 21 IAs, $630K would be lost
Monfredo: spoke to Moore who cosponsored amendment to replace which failed
need to speak to state about need
O'Connell: letter to conference committee to ask for restoration of funds

Educational support salaries
Biancheria: had a letter about hard-of-hearing student
is increase to fix?
Allen: reallocated therapists last year based on need
Rodrigues: reallocation still, based on need

Supplemental Support salaries
Colorio: how many parents don't pick up after school?

School clerical

school nurses
Petty: same number?
Allen: same number of staff, working on providing full coverage
O'Connell: expanded funding for substitutes; why?
Allen: this is really an area we've underfunded; so we don't need to find additional resources during the year
Biancheria: majority of schools have a nurse; only one or two sharing
"we didn't have any discussion that was negative towards that not working"
if you talk to the nurses, they think otherwise
Allen: talking to Deb McGovern about staffing

Teacher salaries
Colorio: observations: maybe things can be shifted around
Y: 250 students in that building: some kind of a lead teacher there that would be an administrator
looking to do the advanced program at Sullivan at other places
Allen: different cluster of teachers, 4 or 5 teachers
Colorio: maybe we can look at that
Binienda: split it between coach, assistant principal, and aide to open door and guide people to where they wanted to go
Colorio; "I would leave it up to your discretion because I don't want to micromanage it, but more of a permanent rather than running between buildings"
McCullough: previously they had a focused assistant principal in that building largely
Binienda: only one assistant principal in that school, sharing time between buildings, adequate coverage
O'Connell: increase in elementary teachers, reducing secondary teachers by 9
maintain courses where feasible
would like to move funds directly into teaching account; requesting administration recommendation for $1M from non-instructional accounts
"ask administration where the money would come from directly into classroom positions"
Monfredo: believe biggest challenge for Chandler is to find a site to move all the students
which had happened...?
Biancheria: 22.5 students per teacher "looks terrific"
then receive a report where some sites have over thirty students
Allen: overall average will be 22.5 yet there will be 65 classrooms with 27 or more students
Biancheria: query of grant funded positions
report what does .8 mean? commenting that she's asked this before and never received (it's never been a motion...)
not sure how that works with the size of the school
Allen: you're answering the question: it's the size of the school, level of services
.5 is 2 1/2 days
Biancheria: asks for report
Foley: support the look, think real challenge is in the classroom
consider classroom instruction (includes IAs)
Monfredo: three classes that have over 31 students; how are handling?
Allen: if there is an opportunity to reduce that, would be. if not (due to classroom space), additional tutors for small group instruction
Petty: just to be clear: this budget is very tight
"if you want to make cuts, it's up to us"
"this is their budget"

day by day substitutes
Monfredo: paying a professional $12 a hour, basically, not this year, but future years
McCullough: difficulty getting substitute teachers
Colorio: triple echo; are we paying more? less?
Binienda: we can get that; subs share that towns pay more
shortage getting subs to schools

Crossing guards passes

School Committee salaries passes

Budget picks up again on June 16 

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