Sunday, June 3, 2018

Worcester school meetings this week

The Worcester City Council passed the Worcester Public Schools' budget this past week, so now to allocate it!

(If you're reading this from elsewhere and are saying, "But this is backwards," yes, it is. School Committees pass their budget and submit to their appropriating authorities. I've got nothing on this one.)
Much like the City Council, the School Committee meets early to work on budget. This Thursday, the Committee meets at 4 pm in budget session, is scheduled to move to executive session at 6, then comes back for their regular meeting at 7 pm. On June 21, they will do the same, returning to budget after their regular session if they haven't finished the accounts before the regular meeting.

The full budget is posted here; it's the line item budget that they'll be deliberating. Note that they do not move through the accounts in the order in the book; I'll try to get the order the administration is suggesting.

I will endeavor to be there, because frankly, we're not getting nearly enough budget coverage in this city.

At the regular 7 pm meeting, there are recognitions and congratulations. The report of the superintendent is on science and engineering programs. There's a two page list and a scan of copy of the presentation posted.

The Finance and Operations Committee is reporting back on two things. They held the budget hearing; note that this was also the meeting at which it was pointed out that the legal item being questioned by Mr. O'Connell was the result of a cut...made by the School Committee. My liveblog of that hearing is here; notes on the video and my comments are here.They also met this past week with the City Council Education Committee, and no, they didn't just talk about merging elementary schools. The important motion (which unfortunately doesn't look like it made the Council agenda this week and thus may be of limited utility) came from the City Council who moved to contact the Legislature supporting the Senate's number on the budgetary allocations which is a $3.3M improvment for Worcester.

And speaking of that $3.3M, yes, I did poke fun last week at the ways in which the Senate's increase was being proposed for allocation at the City Council hearing, but here is what will be the proposed allocation of those funds were they passed :
mea culpa, Mr. Allen
Note that those allocations do not as yet exist, because the state budget is still in conference committee. 

However, there is money coming in that IS being appropriated, though it's happening during the budget: the first alloment of the state funding for students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is in. For you finance geeks, note that it can be spent without further action from the appropriating authorities (it doesn't have to go through City Council) and the district has until next June to spend it. As we already know, it's going into the FY19 budget.

And while we're on budget, let's note that the proposed move of $70,000 within the FY19 budget to fund middle school sports is also on this week's agenda.  This is coaches for two teams of three seasons at five middle schools. It's being done--and now we're back to buildings again!--by combining the environmental management position and the building projects oversight, and charging the projects oversight against the building projects (which thus doesn't come out of the operating budget).  And I haven't had a chance to note that Jim Bedard has taken this position, which is excellent news for the district.

There's the annual (flinch) request by administration that they be given authority to move money to close the fiscal year.

Ms. McCullough has asked that the administration review and revise the dress code (glory be, because that's overdue; this should go to subcommittee, though, as that's under Committee purview).

Miss Biancheria wants to know who is on administrative leave.

Mr. Comparetto is asking for a report on suspensions and suggesting a committee to reduce them.

Miss Biancheria is asking for the city report on combining departments; note that the City Manager said last week that this isn't back yet.

The Committee is being asked to approve a $10,000 grant from UNUM for wellness programs at Sullivan Middle and a $17,000 grant from the SHINE initiative for mental health activities (it sounds like a peer model).

The Committee is also being asked to approve the following donations:
- $275.00 from Hanioti Licensee Inc/Dairy Queen to Belmont Street School
- $266.16 from BW Shrewsbury Operations LLC/Buffalo Wild Wings to Tatnuck Magnet School
- $2,666.00 from the United Way to Burncoat Preparatory School
- $200.00 from Clark University to University Park Campus School to help fund a field trip
- $1,333.00 from the United Way to Worcester Technical High School
- $500.00 Incentive Prize from WEDF to the Academic Center for Transition (ACT)
- $490.00 from the various donors to the Special Education Transition Program
- $500.00 from the Eos Foundation to each of the following schools for their commitment to support universal free, after the bell, breakfast in the classroom (BIC) as a powerful tool to fight childhood hunger and boost academic achievement:
Belmont Street Community School
Canterbury Street Magnet Computer-Based School
Chandler Elementary Community School
Clark Street Developmental Learning School
Goddard School of Science and Technology
Lincoln Street School
Francis J. McGrath Elementary School
Rice Square School
Union Hill School
Wawecus Road School
- $4,215.09 from the Worcester Historical Museum/Pow! Wow! Worcester to the WPS Visual Arts Department
- $100.00 from Marjorie & David Cohen to South High Community School’s Food Pantry

Finally, and interestingly, the Committee is being asked to approve job descriptions for a Blended Learning and Digital Media instructional coach, a Child Study Supervisor, a Turnaround Coach, a Pathways Specialist, a Director of Innovation Pathways, a Licensed Practical Nurse, a Certified Nursing Assistant,  a Clinical Care Coordinator, a Coordinator of Night Life, and a Director of Human Resources. That is mostly about bringing the clinical care services in house; what's different is the School Committee approving the job descriptions. New job descriptions are often approved by school committees elsewhere (you're allocating money with those positions, after all), but I haven't seen it very often in Worcester.

The Committee does have a scheduled executive session at 6 for collective bargaining strategy for negotiations with tradesmen, plumbers and steamfitters, parent liaisons, and tutors.

I will update this if I learn more. 

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