Thursday, June 1, 2017

Worcester School Committee on FY18 (round one)

The budget is here. The sequence of accounts they're following is here. Page 8 of the PDF has the table of contents which link to the items. 

Retirement: $17M
Allen: majority goes to the city of Worcester retirement
Foley: why is it going up less than previous years?
Allen: % of salaries in relation to overall city percentage
as COLAs are settled apart from one another, that could change it
pension obligation bonds that the city uses for investments; if it meets the strategy, it doesn't need additional funds
Monfredo expressing frustration with Governor's budget...FBRC...these are general statements, which I'm not going to type up.
While he's speaking, I'm just going to note here that the retirement fund also directly funds the retirement of those who were employed before 1939 (the establishment of Social Security). It went down a bit this year, so I think we may have had someone die. 
Colorio asks if information up through third quarter could be included; the answer in essence is that it is included now.
"State never what we want it to be...have we received a 4.9% increase in state aid?"
Allen: correct
Colorio: local aid was a $1.7M increase?
Allen: yes, a 1.7% increase over last year
state was required to increase (as they did) due to the enrollment increase
Petty: "...maybe later we can talk about the deficit the state has NOT paid us over the past years"
O'Connell: why the increase? (and is it high?)
Allen: wouldn't be 11% annually going forward and I have no idea why; I couldn't hear

Transportation: $15.3M
Biancheria: there have been issues
Allen: in sum, we are fairly up to date with our work with Durham; outstanding report to you, coming back
Biancheria: leasing vehicles; new?
Allen: leasing vehicles for our own operations, because the replacement fleet...the vehicles aren't lasting as long as the funding allows
working with City Manager for an increase in capital funding
if we get more capital funding, won't need to continue leasing vehicles
EAW has now joined the group observing
Biancheria: additional funding needed for charter schools scheduling and with WRTA passes
are charters changing schedules? and are we using WRTA buses?
Allen: Seven Hills' schedule doesn't align with ours; always been true
WRTA is primarily for bus passes for secondary students primarily after school
Biancheria asks for a report on charter school transporation; and transportation funded through grants
McKinney-Vento: requirement that is a unfunded mandate
Allen: have been submitting to state, has not been fully funding, money goes back to the city's general fund
has been about 50% funded
Biancheria asks for a report on the McKinney-Vento reimbursement
O'Connell wants to add that to discussion with the City Manager (along with Medicaid funding that goes to city general fund)
asks about special education tuition accounts
Seale: also have concerns about tuition accounts, not all WPS-generated IEPs
students may move into district, may come in through group homes
have been building capacity in district
had a regional meeting on group homes; has created an exorbitant amount of costs for districts
O'Connell asks for report on attracting students back to Worcester or into Worcester on a tuition basis
Allen notes possibility of WPS taking over all busing going forward
have had discussions around both increase in building renovations and in capital funding
Foley: as agencies provide services, many families are being placed in Worcester, many students entering our schools
asks for a report of what has happened over past years

Out of State Travel: $0
O'Connell quips that you could double it if you'd like
Biancheria: it was the $5000; now is it moved to misc
Allen: doesn't make sense to maintain an account for a $5000 line item

Athletic OM $93,244
Colorio: not sure I can follow it...
Allen: gate receipts is one; other is rental of Foley Stadium
we are collecting more revenue this year than we have in the past; have seen in the increase in concession revenue
O'Connell: ice times in what's been purchased; any involvement with new rink?
Binienda: we are in process of having communication with owner
will be some discount, what it will be depends on ice times
O'Connell asks about booster clubs providing funds?
Allen: crew...not many beyond providing funding
O'Connell: Pool?
Binienda: pool not included in new South High; not MSBA reimbursed, also difficult to get to South
will be attempted to be included in new Doherty, which is more central
O'Connell asks about putting athletic fees into a revolving fund to generate athletic equipment
and about women's ice hockey
Biancheria wants to know if all kids are bused for athletics; no, some get bus passes

Health insurance: $47M
going up by 5%, for those interested

Other insurance $52,000
O'Connell asks who is bonded, and wants to increase options for bonding

Workers comp $1.4M
O'Connell: is this based on anticipated settlements?
Allen: trying to increase to reflect actual expenditures
accordingly to city, should be increasing at the same rate as the health insurance
one of the accounts that has led to challenges in first and second quarter this year
Foley: F&O looked at several past years, trends in workers comp
"typically this is an account that is raided at the budget hearing to provide funds for other accounts"
working to provide funding needed so it doesn't need to be balanced over year
probably still underfunded by $100-$200,000, but it's better than it was

Personal services: $2.3M
Biancheria: autism services all provided in house?
Allen: yes, first year 100% WPS employees
Seale: first year putting all autism services in the district
now have the capacity to meet the needs of all students in the district
Biancheria: graduation expenses
"it hasn't changed at all in the dollar amount...are we covering all graduations?"
asks for a detailed report
Allen: only expense here is the high schools, can provide a breakout of costs
Biancheria: pipeline funding? (to UMass Med)
Allen: funding has been this for close to 20 years
Binienda: talking to UMassMed about partnering with North and possibly Worcester East Middle
talking about a gifted program at WEMS on science
Biancheria: security guards
Allen: contract had to be rebid, different company
will expire at end of coming fiscal year
Biancheria asks about AP increase
Binienda: Doherty now added to Mass Insight
increase in number of students participating;
says that schools will be judged by number of students in AP
plus AP seminar program at UPCS, Claremont, Burncoat, Doherty, South
Biancheria notes the change in program
Colorio: increase in Teach Point?
Doyle: use Teach Point for database for evaluation of professional staff
all professional staff who are evaluated
Colorio: "such an increase in technology in all areas"
"is this a reasonable amount...almost $55,000 a year? Are there other programs that are just as good?"
Meade-Montague: when district began to explore this sort of system, investigated several programs out there
this was the most inexpensive system that there was
went through a bidding process
came in as the low bid
"it is a web-based's a renewable contract each year"
O'Connell: staff development level funded
"low for a district the size of Worcester"
are there other funds?
Allen: can provide a breakout report to you "absent what's in the grant breakout"
"as you know, as state and federal grants has been reduced" so have services
Binienda going to launch a principals' institute
"continually look for ways for PD to meet the needs of our staff, and not everybody needs to have the same PD"
O'Connell: of consultation and settlements, how much is which?
Allen: settlement is $18,000
O'Connell legal is nearly $400,000; should we consider legal in city solicitor's office?
"or develop our own internal capacity"
Allen: account is going up solely because of the settlement
one of the reasons for high costs this year is the DoJ settlement
Foley: budget to represent the strategic direction of district
new superintendent coming in looking to invest limited dollars: AP
"something that Supt Binienda has seen as successful and looking to ramp it up"
McCullough: staff looking to share their skills with Principals' Institute
use skills of in-house staff members
security guards: moving forward, report back on effectiveness of some of these positions

leaving off on special education tutition
recess to executive session before regular meeting 

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