Friday, February 26, 2021

Worcester School Committee legislative breakfast on FY22

 The agenda including presentation and link to the online meeting is here
though it looks like Mr. Allen updated the presentation again, so this isn't the actual presentation; I'll get a link to it  I've put it over here and I've updated this now with some screenshots.

Binienda: focus on the October 1 enrollment
Kindergartners who took a gap year
support hold harmless for FY22
About $11M shortage in our budget if we're held to last year's count
children did not come because of the pandemic
very important item, especially for Worcester

Allen: presentation will use the House 1 version of the budget
one legislative ask around hold harmless and enrollment 
framing: unprecedent enrollment decline
lower than average inflation rate
important how we plan for preK and K enrollment for next year

FY22 budget less than FY21 before budget cuts
pandemic related enrollment decline

restarts SOA enactment
1/7th of target goal rates for next year

federal and state stimulus funding

new staffing and resource changes

enrollment 1058 student enrollment decline 4.2%
of that 24.3% is prek and K (746 students)

2.8% decline in grades 1-6 (316); not clear if that is a one year thing or sustainable
secondary levels essentially flat

state saw 37,363 (3.9% decline)
8200 students over prior ten years "obviously this is a pandemic related decline)
17,197 was prek and K
17,332 grades 1-6

decline significantly in enrollment of Worcester students in local private schools
St. Paul's 32%
St. John's 17.7%
Nativity 6.6%
Worcester Academy 34.4%

WPS enrollment decline costs $9.5M

inflation is an increase of $6M
SOA adds in $18M
nets $15M increase

drop of SOA funding was balanced out by one time cuts which now need to be added back

baseline budget for next year $386M
increase of only $180K
need about $11.6M

really should have seen an $25M budget increase over last year

biggest change for us is low income enrollment based on 185% of federal poverty level
state needs to figure out how capture low income of students going forward
we had more students counted under our low income count because of the pandemic related enrollment decline
one seventh phase in in House 1
two biggest changes are low income, both in count and in rate phase in

would expect to see a $24M annual increase over seven year phase in, holding enrollment flat

of that $10M is inflation and $14M in SOA
instead we're just seeing $11M due to enrollment drop

hold harmless enrollment and hold harmless funding
enrollment decline effecting many communities across the state
bubble of student enrollment next year, but funding is declining instead
enrollment decline is causing a $9.5M drop in budget
puts it back to $24.8M as needed
holding enrollment harmless allows for districts to absorb the return of students 
then reconciles the budget for FY23

at a minimum, there should be a pothole (foundation reserve) for coverage of that shift until foundation budget catches up following year

Sen. Chandler: having a bubble; what about staffing?
Allen: that's why hold harmless enrollment is so important
may need staffing additions; otherwise may possibly need cuts
"it's to not have the foundation budget...we won't have the resources to support [students coming back]"
Chandler: "it's a statewide problem, and it's one that we should be considering in our statewide budget as well"

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