Thursday, June 16, 2016

Worcester School Committee FY17 budget deliberations (round 2)

scheduled to start at 4; list of accounts is here; they should be picking up with administration; the budget itself is here, and the Table of Contents on (web) page 7 is hyperlinked to each account. Updating as we go.

Administration ($12,130,258):
O'Connell: appreciate the detail
propose reducing the administration account by $1M
request at last meeting that teacher account be increased by $1M
feedback by administration "is they are not prepared to make reductions in this amount"
reduce the account by $1M
administration will be back in a month to show what changes they propose
"severe fiscal restraints"
may not be teaching positions, supplies
"give the administration opportunity" to find funds "it can live without in the coming year"
number of people in the Durkin Administration Building "appears still to be growing"
("still" a misnomer; it had been sinking)
"growing insidious trend" of increasing administration
Petty: what division do you want to make it out of?
O'Connell: cumulatively
Petty: what job are you going to eliminate?
Colorio: will support, wants to see more tutors
if can't do teachers, do tutors
want to see more teachers in Allied Health at Worcester Tech
Monfredo: have confidence in superintendent
not going to hold administration to a million in cuts
"we can all go through, when we look at this budget: this is not a good budget!"
"we just can't do it this year!"
Biancheria: when we look at what we can work in a collaborative effort with the city
perhaps see the manager in the city (for human resources) oversee that department
"would like to see that as a pilot program"
"that would be a thought that I would suggest to the superintendent"
"look at the liaison salaries...would like to see them have classrooms in the morning...did that years ago"
"would like to see that activity back into the classroom"
Foley: would all love to see more funding in the classroom
"this is a budget that is inadequate in many areas"
"this is the superintendent's first budget"
has made some adjustments in here; support recommendations from Binienda
"significantly against taking anything from school-based support at all!"
let her have a year
"I think we're ready to go with the budget we have here"
Petty: going to oppose that as well
provide a lot of support for the principals
"complexity of the schools these days... would send the school system backwards"
Allen: spend low on administration compared to comparable urban districts, as well as well below foundation budget
Colorio: think some suggestions from colleagues were very creative
think of creative ways
Monfredo: "let's give our superintendent a year to evaluate the system"
Binienda: "I was involved in this budget for the whole time"
sat for well over 30 hours
"some things we did come up with creative efforts with"
cites using outside efforts on professional development
"we are creative as far as trying to find ways to save money"
84% of spending is for salaries and employee benefits
reductions in some areas aren't possible
"there really isn't a lot of room on that"
75% spent on teachers; have too few IAs, custodians, secretaries
"we have reorganized some of the central office positions" to ensure schools are getting support they need
"nothing we can find to cut at this time"
look for grants to pay for things and resources
Roll call on cutting $1M
O'Connell motion to cut $5000 instead
Allen: can certainly cut $5000 "but get make strategic reallocation of dollars over the summer"
Roll call: fails 4-3
Roll call on administration: passes 4-3

administrative clerical:
O'Connell: is admin restructuring any of these positions?
Allen: no significant restructuring of positions in any of these positions
not going to be significantly different from what's recommended in the budget

non-instructional support salaries:
Colorio: increase in information systems
Allen: a number of positions were under Title I
"another adjustment within the budget"
we had previously some payments to Level 4 schools in the budget; think those dollars should be in Title I
"better alignment of Title I dollars"
"no change in the number of positions"
Colorio: how many positions?
Allen: six positions were in Title I that are now in general fund
Colorio: should see a decrease in...?
Allen: instructional assistants
O'Connell: does city absorb any cost on Medicaid collection?
Allen: essentially, no
maintain the narrative of increase in 1990's, but there's been in change since that time
"number has fluctuated above and below net school spending"
O'Connell: any time to revisit with the city the money generated from these positions?
Allen: in general conversations with CM and city CFO has been number of dollars in total above net school spending
O'Connell: recommendation would be as long as we're above net school spending, not bring up?
Allen: all things being equal, we'd be $2M over net school spending for FY18
O'Connell requests a report of how much WPS spends versus collects in Medicaid
Monfredo: an area that I have mentioned that we need to engage with the city on a 50/50 split
Colorio: support superintendent's cut of volunteer position without losing programs
Biancheria: "additional" meaning added?
Allen: (paraphrase) means "one more"
Biancheria: requests list of third party services "looking to dollars spend in this area"
two data analysts for IEPs: why here not in special ed?
is this included in the total of what we are paying in the costs of that department?
Allen: these are grant funded positions; trying to be transparent in all positions
non-clerical; support staff; both funded through IDEA special education grant
appropriate account for that
Biancheria: is it included in the special ed department as a cost?
Allen: would be in special ed in location-based budget
Biancheria: parent liaisons: where they will be and what they will be doing
Binienda: combine with position in central office; move one position from HR/superintendent to PIC
"we want it to be a very welcoming place"
"focus is really going to be welcoming everyone who comes in there...high quality customer service"
Colorio: bullet points on what is grant funded
"a little bit different visually"
account approved

support overtime approved

custodial salaries:
Biancheria: support of custodians; have seen them work to keep outside and inside up-to-date and clean
"how we can support them with promotions and so on...know we are held back by the state"
appreciate those who are working for us

custodial overtime approved
maintenance service salaries
maintenance service overtime approved

facilities department non-salary
Foley: this is another place in the department that we are underfunding
"this account here we are underfunding"

building utilities ($6.4M)
Biancheria: solar and other ideas: any updates?
Allen: most notable change is solar panels at ten sites
have estimated about $130,000 savings through solar credits
will have more experience next year and have clearer idea of savings
Biancheria: was hoping for higher dollar amount
Allen: when South is renovated or replaced, heating plant will be replaced
North and Tech larger schools: using more heat and light
Biancheria: they are still less, though, even though it's a larger footprint
costs for maintaining schools (cuts Allen's response about night classes off; that's the answer)
Monfredo: more solar?
Allen: think they've maximized location. looking at other options
Martin: Worcester Tech: exterior lights now LED
and now state of the art, better controlled and reduced energy
finishing up scope of work for Burncoat High to relight with LEDs
Monfredo: Sullivan: number of solar panels in parking lot is phenominal; does that cover all electricity
Martin: do not believe so
O'Connell: project at Burncoat: do we ultimately come out ahead?
Martin: details being worked out with city; payback in 12 months or less
O'Connell: excellent arrangement; in confines of current budget operation
rates of natural gas from February?
Allen: no, locked in through FY19
use in last two years were complete oppositions
electricity done jointly with city this fiscal year
work on all schools on wireless this year
switching VOIP for phones; transitions now
hopefully budget will be somewhat cost neutral as ERate switches what they will fund

vehicle maintenance
Biancheria: is the North High van here or is that separate?
Allen: funds gas and "in some cases maintenance as well"

transportation salaries ($2.5M):
Biancheria: transportation coordinator has been added
"can I have a little more background on why that was done?"
Allen: one of the areas in the last hours of balancing the budget
"as you know we've had some issues on transportation services going forward"
day-to-day contact with the vendor that will provide savings in the budget
have taken $200,000 credit in the transportation account; believe that will be the savings
"don't believe without the day-to-day monitoring...don't believe we can achieve the savings in the account"
Biancheria: their lack of responsibility is going to cost us money?
Allen: right now, we have to take Durham's word on what buses ran; believe we can achieve savings through monitoring
Biancheria: have had a tremendous bad year with Durham
"I just feel as though at this point we should be looking for another company before we hand hold them through the next year"
Binienda: some times there are buses that are not there or late; would send an email; busy day, might not remember
"this way there's always somebody at the yard who can confirm that for us"
salary for the person is being saved by the person being there making Durham accountable
Biancheria: how will we have money on our side?
"look I'll okay this"
"it ends up us creating a job so they can do their job"
checking that Durham says in their contract
Allen: "you're absolutely correct, partially"
don't want to get lost that this position is solely doing contract monitoring
position doing training for our drivers and monitors to keep their certification up to date as well
Biancheria; permanent position or temporary position
Allen: through zero based budget will review
expect that it will reveal continued savings
Biancheria: asks for report on savings in January
Allen: will report to our director of transportation, located at our bus yard on Freemont Street and the Durham bus yard
Monfredo: Mr. Allen has certainly answered all the questions I had
"going to make a major difference with complaints that have occurred this past year"
O'Connell: can see how it might be cost savings
"certainly support the position"
important to know if it's really recovering areas of need; "beneficial report at just the right time"
Colorio: include credits for this year; to compare this year to next year; is it generating more revenues back to our budget
Allen: certainly can provide that information; can provide information on the settlement that we've reached for this year
"going to be a little apples to oranges....cameras, drop-down chains...credits we've reached this year"
as opposed to consolidation of routes due to driver shortages

transportation overtime

O'Connell: are 96 buses enough?
Allen: "we do believe that 96 buses is accommodating our home-to-school services effectively"
O'Connell: two out of district vocational students: Norfolk Ag?
Allen: yes
if there are changes in extended day programs, it will increase the number of buses we need
"if something results in a change in the tier structure" it would be a transportation issue
don't anticipate for FY17, possible for FY18
Biancheria: some monies and some savings "where did we get savings this year?"
Allen: have met with Durham; have reached agreement: it's $200,000
part of year end closing process
"we could drag this out...or we could use this money for textbooks" at close of fiscal year
Biancheria; when are you sitting down with them to discuss if they are ready for us for the next year?
Allen: looking for a real coordinated effort from Durham
believe Hennessey has met with them since
will meet again on items that are still pending
then oversight of operations; we intend to use all rights up to and including dismissing drivers if they use side streets
Biancheria: cameras?
Allen: believe it should be resolved for the start of the school year; "Certainly from our perspective better be resolved for the start of the school year"
Monfredo: McKinney-Vento: intention is to help homeless
however, state stepped in and funded the program; funding goes back to city
Allen: the state is partially funding this program
statutorally, all money unless it is specifically earmarked, it goes back to the city general fund
"now the city can make an argument that they're 100% funding it anyway, since transportation doesn't count towards net school spending"
Monfredo: does this take place throughout the state?
Allen: always goes to city general fund
"but it's apples and oranges, as some are spending 130, 140% above net school spending"
Monfredo: could I have a list of what districts do?
Allen: could try to survey through our list serv
Colorio: understand we're mandated to provide out of district vocational
two students going same school: $36,000
Allen: that's what an appropriate vehicle costs
it's a contract; that's the estimated cost; don't know of any cost-share opportunities so budgeting full amount

other insurance programs

O'Connell: increase of about 6%; reflects cost to WPS of municipal retirement system
how is that calculated?
Allen: city takes a snapshot in time of the salaries of the WPS employees not in state system
develops a percentage and applies it to the schedule
just gets applied to us based on that ratio

workers' comp
O'Connell: administration recommends level-funding this account
is this something we should look at to either increase or decrease this amount?
Allen: conversations we've had, will continue to have

health insurance
Petty: up 6%
Allen: yes
Petty: nationally, statewide, more?
Allen: a blended rate; fairly in line with what we've seen
O'Connell: based on current employees or something we don't know at this point?
Allen: blended, take a snapshot in time, and make some assumptions based on projected retirees
layoffs, lead to health insurance savings, make transfers from one to the other

O'Connell: letters of anticipated continued employment at this time?
Allen: yes, we've done that
O'Connell: anyone generating unemployment not likely to be employed by us over the next year?
Allen: yes
Monfredo: do teachers start getting unemployment in July or September?
Allen: by state law, they get it immediately

printing and postage
O'Connell: postal savings programs?
Allen: saving on the order of 2 cents per piece
letters assembled centrally
O'Connell asks for a report
Biancheria: comment on digital document center; appears it's working well
one full time employee; support on others in administration

in-state travel
Colorio: why increase?
Allen: using expected expediture, thus increase over budgeting
Monfredo: confused
Allen: FY16 underbudgeted
most funding going to itinerrate teachers traveling between buildings

out of state travel
Monfredo: if we've had to cut staff, why would we be looking for expenses for recruitment?
Allen: transition in staff, would be looking towards FY18
hopefully budget will improve for FY18 where we're looking at recruitment mode
Monfredo: might be looking to reduce at some point

athletic coach salaries
O'Connell budgeted with the expectation that all schools will have teams in all these sports?
Allen: we budgeted based on what teams were fielded this year?
athletic director has flexibility to move resources as long as we stay within budget
(can be moved from school to school due to demand)
"whatever team we funded this year, we're funding next year"
Biancheria: "it's good to see that crew is in this"
including cheerleading in list
O'Connell: would ask for a report on crew equipment that the team would need

athletic maintenance

Petty: "our award winning nutrition program!"
Colorio: was not involved in decision to extend universal free lunch
thought there was a cost savings?
Allen: cost savings in administration of program
increase of revenue to expand program
Colorio: will continue free?
Allen: yes, CEP rate is for four years
Colorio: is there a way to monitor the free and reduced? and cut down the waste factor?
Lombardi: required to track student participation
processes to ensure that waste is minimal
when systems are implemented through all the schools, "waste is minimal"
Binienda: sharing tables are very effective
O'Connell: "truly an excellent program...recognized statewide"
budget projection is an increase of 15% but less of expenditure
are we running into an area where we might need to use budget dollars?
Allen: being somewhat conservative
"current program is fully funding all of its costs"
O'Connell: increase spending on increased revenue
Allen: "do live within the revenue that is available"
O'Connell "most effective way to run your program and doing a very effective job in the process"
Biancheria: permanent kitchen helpers: more meals?
Allen: building budget based on assumption of more meals being served
Biancheria: increasing what services need to be provided to do so
Monfredo: wanted to thank Ms. Lombardi for a job well done
increasing summer feeding program
Lombardi: three refrigerated trucks throughout the city
working with libraries and their kickoff events
working with city parks programs
be able to respond to other programs as need
"intent is to continually expand on an annual basis"
Foley: "one of the most important things we do here"
doesn't get enough recognition in the city

O'Connell: city assessment increase from previous budgets
Allen: recommending that the school committee accept city's rate
if school committee agrees, will eliminate budget finding
going from 3% to 2 1/2% to 2%; as it is actual (not budgeted) there is in fact cost savings
O'Connell: will in fact be close to the mark
previously a distinction between what was budgeted and what was spent

O'Connell: commmends administration on its third consecutive year of the Meritorious Budget award
will not be voting for budget
thinks more money can be found
Colorio: considering this is the superintendent's first budget
need more money for teachers, tutors, and IAs
"would like to see more focus on that for future budgets"
McCullough: will be supporting the budget
"confident that the administration will work towards" having more resources in classroom
on administration "the fact is we need those positions in place; there are legal ramifications"
Monfredo: all can agree that this is not a good budget, but "it is what it is"
"looking at ways of increasing our budget"
"need to support this budget"
Biancheria: "won't be supporting this budget"
"I look at this as the first round of many"
Foley: "if it were asking for a vote tonight if we think that this is a vote that's adequate, I think it would be 7-0 against it"
"best estimate, best projection looking at available revenues"
"we all want more resources in the classroom. I also want more administrative support, custodial support, supplies in the classroom"
"we've been talking about the foundation budget for years now" we know it isn't adequate
parsing budget we have
Petty: can we cut administration?
Binienda: can't cut $1M; more focus on practice
focus in past week has been that we're all practitioners
"we don't have the money to add those positions, but we're changing the culture"
would ask that you support the budget

budget passes 4-3

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