Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Live reporting from School Committee meeting - FY 09 budget hearing

There is a slight change in the overall amounts due to a miscalculation where $180,000 of athletic revenue was not offset against the expenses reducing the overall totals by $180,000. This could reduce the pay to ride from $100 per student to $50 per student.

Updated - 8:00 PM

Average wage increase, negotiated settlement plus step and lane changes an educated guess would be about 5% for all teachers - per Wayne in response to question from Jim Roche

Updated - 8:03 PM

Deb Bartlett question on athletic fees that were not calculated properly was really the result of a spreadsheet calculation error. The formula was in the sheet but it did not subtract properly.

Due to efforts covering the audit shortfall during FY08, there really is a 15% difference in that those funds will not be provided during FY09. So the level service year to year is not perfectly providing the same services due to this 15% amount.

Updated - 8:12 PM

Linda Waters answering some questions on special education and providing appropriate services. Could you use contracted services to provide the services instead of hiring a school psychologist? You would not save much if any money nor would you always be sure of meeting the service needs of the students.

Updated - 8:17 PM

Mike D'Angelo answering question on custodial salaries. Due to the layoff of the 8 custodians from last year, they came from the least senior employees in the department but where they ended up was not equitably distributed per the budget and the buildings for an effective operation. The budget changes are mostly to correct this and reflect an accurate picture of the operations. For example, ECDC is 10% of the Horace Mann/Oak Street complex with Horace Mann and Oak Street picking up 45% to account for the staff supporting the buildings.

Updated - 8:20 PM

In response to Ms Armenio: It is fair to say that there will be less text books in schools next year due to the attempts to keep the teachers and maintain class size numbers.

Updated - 8:25 PM

Overall sense of micromanaging the budget probably due to the lack of trust in the process and numbers from prior years. Spending an awful lot of time on piddling items when the real big issues remain unaddressed at this point. My 2 cents.

Updated - 8:30 PM

Ed Cafasso on the High School budget. Paul Funk speculating that the amounts were added in and not subtracted properly leaving $180,000 plus on the Athletic side.

This budget goes to fix a number of items that the auditor found as well as other items that were found in the process of the forensic audit. This budget with all the scrutiny provided is really a much more accurate budget.

Wayne provides an example to use the $180,000 to offset the pay-to-ride and therefore the fees would increase to $50 instead of $100 (in a no override, level funded budget).

Could use the $180,000 for 2 teachers and retain the late bus also.

Updated - 8:40 PM

Discussion on substitutes and ESPs at the high school, takes a best guess, amount should really be more to reflect actuals but that would mean additional cuts elsewhere.

Snow removal varies, 07 had only one storm to plow.
Security guards cut operationally a couple of years ago but really cut from the budget this year. Small amount.

Updated - 8:45 PM

Created separate line items for lane changes and other salary related items so that they could be tracked easily. These had been "buried" in other accounts. These are projections based upon the people and their degrees.

Updated - 8:50 PM

Level funding reduces the amount of professional development for teachers, nurses and others in the school community (approx. $57,000). No funding for building based initiatives on professional development days. Reading specialists were able to go to some state programs for training this year, next year with level funding this would be cut. The cut in the curriculum teams (no math, science, social studies) under level funding would significantly affect the MCAS action plans for next year.

Updated - 8:55 PM

Ed Cafasso struggling with the transportation items.

Updated - 9:00 PM

Ed drilling in a the technology spending. Software fees moved from each individual school into the central fund. 25% maintenance of the computers.

Updated - 9:00 PM

Jim Roche - what are the expected revenues, where are they in the budget? Is there a spot that lists all the revenue that comes in that either offsets or like Medicaid this year is not coming in and accounts for some of the increases.

Paul Funk - previous budget did have those items summed and accounted for after the budget but that also contributed to the forensic issue due to the mishandling.

recommendation from Wayne to obtain the hold questions in advance so the answers can be provided more crisply.

This concludes public hearing on FY 09 budget

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