Monday, July 11, 2016

Jointly passed budget leaves Worcester $1.1M short (and School Committee meets Thursday)

I'd urge those interested in Worcester education to read the backup to Thursday's meeting regarding the budget. Note that this was prior to Governor Baker's released vetoes, which cuts down circuit breaker further (that's probably the only impact the Governor's vetoes have on WPS, though there are quite a number that hit Worcester in other ways).
The budget passed by both parts of the Legislature leave WPS short by $1.1M from the budget the School Committee passed last month. That's:

  • $736,360 lost for the kindergarten grant. I'd urge you to read the memo, but, in short, there will be schools with simply will not have a kindergarten aide this year. And that's with elementary class sizes growing. 
  • a $63,139 increase over the House budget, as the joint budget adopts the Senate number (again, read the memo for why).
  • a $364,059 loss in charter school reimbursement (this is due to the increase in seats, but not in reimbursements). This means that Worcester is $1M underfunded for charter school reimbursements for FY17.
  • a further loss of $82,000 in tuition assessment change.
The general fund budget is impacted by $383,725. 

But that's not all!
The elementary classes are, of course, bigger in size than last year. You'll remember, though, that secondary positions were cut in the FY17 budget as passed. As course schedules are being filled "there are courses with full enrollment without budgeted teaching slots" (emphasis in the original). In other words, there are classes full of secondary kids for which Worcester doesn't have teachers.

AND because the preliminary estimates showed a significant drop in the count of Worcester's school-aged population, the Title I numbers are expected to be down. No word yet on how much.

As I was saying, there's a meeting of the Worcester School Committee on Thursday at 4 (summertime!). The agenda is here. The big (big) news is the budget update. 

There are several recognitions. There are also a significant number of donations. 
There are responses coming back to budget questions on: what a .8 position is; how other districts handle their McKinney-Vento reimbursements (Worcester isn't the only school district that loses it); and the IA who handles CORI checks
The administration is requesting that the School Committee file this list of outstanding motions (just item numbers given; no motions).  Further, the administration is requesting that all items referred for a Friday letter that have not received a response within 24 months be automatically filed. 
The administration is forwarding these dates as legislative meetings: Friday, November 4, 2016; Friday January 20, 2017' and  Friday, March 10, 2017.
There are proposals to extend the contracts of both Attorney Paige L. Tobin and Attorney Sean Sweeney for three years.

Mr. O'Connell wants to know about each school's substance abuse policy.
Ms. Biancheria wants to know about the new transportation position. Mr. O'Connell is requesting information about the technology capacities of WPS with regarding to state testing (something which has been answered before, when the requirements were heavier; WPS had enough then.).
And Mr. O'Connell is asking about budget impacts.
Mr. Monfredo wants an update on the teacher survey.
Miss Biancheria wants data on MCAS appeals. Miss Biancheria is asking again this month that the grounds of City View and Belmont Hill be trimmed, for an inventory of recess equipment, and for crosswalks, particularly Belmont Hill's, to be repainted, and a list of schools by accountability level.

There is also an extensive executive session, with discussion of litigation, a grievance, and negotiations with most of the unions. The executive session is AFTER the meeting. 

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