Wednesday, June 14, 2017

City Manager Augustus and Superintendent Binienda at CPPAC

at least nominally on budget, but we'll see where the questions go...

Supt Binienda: FY17 adopted budget $322M; FY18 recommended $334M
not including grants
increase of over 3%
"foundation budget is really well below what we need for what we need to do."
runs through account by account increases
notes special education increases, translation (which is hard to project and legally required)...
"process we have is a really great process": resource allocation meetings
principals meet with their schools, fill out resource allocation form, meet with district managers
each school has an hour to an hour and half to make their case
priority 1, 2, 3
"try to fill priority 1 for this year"
were able to fill all priority 1 for this year

"for the teachers in front of them" most of all
additional custodians for new Nelson Place; school adjustment counselors
whole additional team for Forest Grove
knocking down waitlist for Worcester Tech
Burncoat Middle for Hanover Academy and one for the dual language program (Chandler Magnet and Roosevelt combined; social studies teacher is dual certified; advanced Spanish classes)
teaming in grade nine at Burncoat High (adding three plus teachers)
not enough exposure to the arts in Sullivan (per ESSA plan from state)
WEMS world language
middle schools going back up to seven period days to offer more opportunities for middle school students, plus allows pull out for ELL students
offering more programs in Ch. 74 programs at the comprehensive high schools
diesel at South (plus culinary arts and education)
medical business technology at North
Creamer Center: overage, undercredited students; "one of the things that always concerned me as a principal was what kinds of options are we offering students"; altering shifts, adding five teaching positions, working 11 to 5 shift; teachers who are just there for the afternoon and evening
two administrative positions: adding manager of digital learning "an expert on how you use technology to learn curriculum"
adding a turnaround position
grade 7 science textbooks ordered

Q for superintendent
total students at Creamer? Varies. 120 students, probably; limit per school, as we only have so many staff and it's small and personal; that graduation rate goes back to their high schools
"that's one reason why Worcester has a high graduation rate, because of this program"
Q is there a pipeline to Quinsig?
Workforce Central, Worcester Tech, Chamber...partnering; grant ends in December; "five kids got jobs out of that, starting at a salary of $45,000"
Q: backup plan if the grant doesn't get funded? Working with Chamber
"trained kids who can use technology, are good thinkers, and are certified"
Q: seeing more technology in the classroom; are we evaluating or planning to engage parents more? Getting a lot of feedback that kids are using technology that parents don't understand
"that's one of the jobs of the manager of digital outreach"
online grade book "is also a union issue; that's why that hasn't progressed yet"
still looking for grants to upgrade website; "very expensive"
Q other Gateway Cities have them; how come we don't?
question of funding, administration

Augustus: redoing city website "very long, very complicated process"
website now is programmatically focused; not customer friendly
Q: is it a budget issue or is it too broad and expansive?
A: could do better at being integrated, but there are different needs in schools
put money aside to do a study on combining services
Augustus: amount over NSS increasing each year
cites 57% of city budget going to WPS (making the classic "count Ch.70" calculation)
putting money aside each year for new schools: city is eligibility for 80% reimbursement from the state "right now it looks like we're only going to get 60% for that"
says city doesn't charge schools for water and sewer (it's counted as municipal spending on education per the municipal agreement)
solar farms
want next round of ESCo projects to be focused on the WPS
WPL's in school buildings
$3M for window projects; "city pays the debt service on that, and the schools get the savings on that"
city has started an OPEB trust fund
Q: if I were in another community, would all of these categories count there, too?
"I think it's hard to compare, I think it's not apples to apples"
put in for a new Burncoat High School; "that could be $600M, and if you watch the City Council meetings, they're not excited about raising taxes"
Q on non-profits not paying taxes: Worcester has changed employment base from manufacturing to education and medicine
"Stuff is coming off occasionally, yes, but we're working really hard to put things back on the tax roles"
Q: have you heard from delegation about the foundation budget?
A: no, but haven't had that conversation lately; "we know the shortfall, we just need to find the funding"
Millionaires Tax "probably the best hope"
"I don't want to build budgets with fixes and one time increases"
"by having high bond rating, we're a more reliable investment for bond holders"
and then there was a long back and forth about non-profits in Worcester
Q on Brockton pending lawsuit: "not on my radar screen"
$600,000 more coming to the schools in the city capital budget than prior years

to Q about redistricting from Supt: some schools that were at/over capacity were school choice in; a number going back to their home schools
discussion of adding a science and tech at Worcester East Middle
wanting to expand engineering program at Doherty
"hope that by doing that we can have more" choosing
"if we do have a large increase, we would have to look at how we'd have to solve that"
whole section of Chandler Magnet: ACT program moving to 12 New Bond Street, gives a wing open
really want an early childhood center

Q: Norrback PTO now being charged for evening events at the school
"I don't know if that's a new thing...."
Binienda: principal can say that they don't need an extra custodian...(since Norrback has one at night) "because you have an acting principal, she might not know that"
Q: schools without auditorium need a transportation budget to get kids to a space that they can have a gathering in

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