It's not surprisingly that this has come up, of course, particularly as measures have been filed by members of (at least) the Minneapolis and Denver school boards to remove the budget lines for police in their schools and cancel their memoranda with their departments; if you know of others, I'd be interested.
The first thing to know is that the funding for the Worcester police in the schools is actually in two places: it's first in the line item budget of the Worcester Public Schools, which is voted by the Worcester School Committee. This year, you can find that on page 193; it's part of the Supplemental Program Salaries cost center:
Since that's a line in our budget, and the School Committee (unlike the City Council) can move money, yes, that money could be transferred.
That isn't, though, most of the funding for the Worcester police who are in the Worcester Public Schools. That's on page 417, where the calculation of how much the City spends on schools is; the entire page looks like this:
If you haven't been through one of these before, what's happening here is this: the City is legally obligated to spend a certain amount on schools each year (it can, of course, spend more; nearly every district does, and most spend MUCH more), and this is figuring out if the City has hit it. It has the past three fiscal years, the current year as budgeted, and the upcoming year (that's FY21).As a side note, if you look at the bottom line, you'll see we've been dropping since FY18 in how much over the City has been spending on schools.
That's where police are, too; they're just above water:
So for those who have asked how much Worcester spends on police in the schools, the answer for this current year was to be $120,000 + $844,421=$964,421 (I don't know if this was changed by the pandemic; it's on my list to ask) and for next year it's $120,000 + $861,309 = $981,309.
Again as a side note: If you go back across, you might note that this dropped from FY17 to FY18, dropped again for FY19, and then has been climbing again since. I don't know why; I plan to ask that, too.
Now, THIS second set of money, the Worcester School Committee does not vote. It is allocated as part of the City Council's budget process as part of their lines for each of these items (and it isn't separated out). The Council, unlike the School Committee, does NOT have reallocation authority; they cannot move money. If they wish to do something different than what is recommended to them, they have to request the City Manager make a different budget recommendation to them, he has to acquiesce and do so, and then they have to approve that allocation instead.
If the Worcester School Committee, alone, were to move the $120,000 from our budget to a different line WITHOUT any other action, there is nothing to stop the City from simply spending (overall) the same amount on police in the schools, counting it as school spending, and cutting our actual monetary allocation by a parallel amount.I'm not saying they would; I am observing they could.
If one wished, as I have seen suggested, to spend the above nearly a million dollars on something ELSE within the schools, the following would need to happen:
- The City and the schools would need to agree to end the MOU between the Worcester Police Department and the Worcester Public Schools and no longer have police in the schools. Given what it took to create the MOU, I would think this would take both elected bodies, plus the City Manager, and the Superintendent, plus the Chief.
- The Worcester City Council would have to request that the City Manager change his proposed budget to move $861,309 from the police department line to the Worcester schools' allocation. (Note that this would not change overall spending on schools, by the way. It would just change where it is spent.)
- The City Manager would have to agree and come back with a different budget proposal, which
- ...the City Council would have to vote to approve.
- The Worcester School Committee would need to vote to move the $120,000 out of line N of Supplemental Program Salaries and move it...somewhere else, like Educational Support Salaries (where the wraparound coordinators and clinicians are) or Teachers (where the adjustment councilors and psychologists are) PLUS allocate the additional funds from the City similarly.
Now, is all of that impossible? No.
If this is something you care about, two places to start:
- the Worcester City Council hears the Worcester Public School allocation (remember: it's a lump sum; they have no say over what is done with it, and nearly all of the funding they're spending they legally have to; the city is literally 0.17% over the mandated minimum) on Tuesday, June 2 at 4 pm.
- the Worcester School Committee begins its budget hearing on Thursday, June 4 at 4 pm, and we're starting with a public hearing.
Both meetings are public, but remote.
And if you have questions on any of the above, please let me know.
OH! And if you're not in Worcester, you should know: it's very common to have the school resource officers be a municipal contribution, not a School Committee allocation, so subbing in whatever your town or city allocation process, your answer may well be similar to the above.