Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Worcester Public Schools FY18 budget hearing

The presentation for tonight is here.
The full budget is here.

Foley: budget document gets bigger every year
"budget sets the strategic direction for the school district"
difficulty is on the revenue side
City Manager ramping up contributions from the city
"signficant funds for facilities improvements"
"can recognize that the city has stepped up"
"leading the way statewide on the foundation formula"
"requires us to take money from other places" in order to fund health care and special ed
"$93M a few years ago; probably closer to $100M now"
state is trying to determine where those dollars come from
Fair Share amendment
McCullough: city side stepping up
signed on to foundation budget
working with reps and senators at the state level
"needs to go beyond us; all citizens push" on foundation budget
Colorio: need to spend any additional money we have and put it back in the classroom
"have done a lot of lobbying and testimony on excess testing"

Allen: House budget used for WPS budget
uses reallocation of funds (zero based budget)
enrollment changes and low inflation rate
continuing to face areas that exceed normal inflation
resource needs at schools are significant and urgent but can't be met within available revenue
60% of budget from state funding 28% from city 12% for federal
one of 92 communities that are foundation aid districts
continued low inflation rate
minimally increase health insurance line
state budget underfunding charter school reimbursement and circuit breaker (for FY17, WPS is underfunded by $935,000)
enrollment in Worcester is growing
"highest level it's been since 2003...and we have eight fewer schools than we did in 2003"
enrollment increased across the board, but did shift by schools
foundation budget
inflation: "not capturing the cost increases...I'd estimate underfunding us by 5 and 7%"

it's worth noting here that though the city is going to be $3M over NSS, the increase in city funding is $1.7M

And those slides just went way too fast, but they're the cost increases...I'll try to backfill later

still another $13M of needs that aren't met by process
elementary class size
secondary enrollment is increasing
watch the FBRC
technology support and maintenance needed
costs centers are exceeding inflation
City Council hears WPS budget at 4 pm on May 30
School Committee hears budget at 4 pm on June 1 and 15

Foley: thrilled that we're continuing to add some more teachers
"class sizes and classroom support clearly inadequate"
closed eight schools yet enrollment now mirrors that enrollment
after a back and forth on FBRC...Foley confirms that the loss of $750,000
Monfredo ask what percent is over the foundation budget
"just about 1% over NSS"
And what is the statewide average?
"between 14 and 18%" ...it was 20% in FY16...?

Ruth Rodriguez: what is the budget that the students are mandated to take?
Allen: state test is paid for by state
Rodriguez: even if the state is paying for it, time and resources of district devoted to it

Gordon Davis: Human Rights Committee
fighting against the school to jail policies
high student to teacher ratio is a factor
evaluate the suspension rate, the dropout rate, the arrest at school rate
"don't think children should be arrested at school"
institutionally disadvantaged...by state by foundation budget
comparative communities: "they're reasonable comparisons"
"we should be allying with them"
"that's something the School Committee should do...should make alliances with Springfield and other Gateway Communities"
"should fully fund the schools"

I've skipped my own testimony here, but some of it ended up in the article.

Roger Nugent EAW President
"my people showed up every day...have them presented with a zero" is disrespectful
"we will negotiate in good faith"

Clinician concerned about steps and salary schedule
"not even updated to be commensurate with Worcester teacher schedule"
underpaid and low morale
with low morale, see very high turnover
with students with mental health issues, very important to have consistency

parent from Community Connections
asks that dreams of parents and students be considered

question of how much the district spends on non-mandated testing

question on district leadership: percentage spent on central administration
what is the process for getting teacher input into SEL
zero percent proposed for teachers but money for police officers
then there was a thing about "discretionary funding" which it turns out was a misunderstanding about the city increasing funding over last year by $1.7M

substitute teacher: building sub at Claremont Academy
"have not seen a pay increase since 2012"
receive about minimum wage for a day's work
"time that they get paid fairly for the work that they do"
"without us things wouldn't run quite so smoothly"

clinician for Collaborative: clinicians have to maintain same levels of licensure as school adjustment counselor
serve some of the district's most vulnerable students
ask that they make amendments to the arrangement that was made on paper

Brian O'Connell citing MASC's work on advocacy on the foundation budget

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