Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Live reporting - School Committee Budget Hearing

Superintendent Maureen Sabolinski, Business Manager Miriam Goodman, Asst Supt. Sally Winslow

Initial budget presented in Jan, updated in Mar, this will be a brief update

Projected revenue from State stabilization funds and from Life Long Learning = ~ $900,000
Increased revenue from tiered sports fees ($150 - $450)
Reductions in personnel (15 teachers) and services (3 less buses, shortened day for elementary)

Shortened day in elementary schools by one day
Activities monitors currently provide coverage so that teachers can have their contractually obligated preparation time, this is a reduction in cost as well as saving 3 teacher positions at the elementary

If this can not be negotiated with the teachers, then these three positions would also be cut for a total of 10 from the elementary schools

Class size would be about 30 students in the 6th grade with the split team model as proposed.
Students would not get recess on the one elementary shortened day but all other normal activities would be covered

Elementary principals
Lost 27 classroom teachers since 2008 school year, enrollment dropped 150 students still resulting in higher class sizes
Librarians were cut but curriculum on resource skills are not taught, teachers lost access to the librarians for assistance with with classroom requirements
Technology CETs were cut, so computer training and assistance is totally upon the teachers
Shortened day is only one day a week, approximately 60-75 minutes
Won't be recess on that day, (20 minutes gained) losing 50 minutes of academic time but the district is still above the 900 hours that the State requires

Class size has a direct impact on student learning, increases in class size make it more difficult with the standards maintained or increases, teachers are doing a fantastic job, teachers are working harder and harder

You see it in assessments and special education referrals
You see it directly in performance
Elementary teachers are generalists and required for preparation in 5 different subject areas
Losing the support of the CETs and Librarians has an impact on the teacher prep and hence delivery in the classroom
No Child Left Behind makes requirements by law on delivery of services where there are students struggling

What do you think of the argument that the Town doesn't see the effects of the budget cuts?
This won't last, it is not an automatic and quick decline, it is harder to see but we are living it everyday

I think the dedicated people in this room feel it is all about the child, it is in our position to do everything we can with it to help the students.
When I started we had 547 session of three years, we are down to 140 sessions over three years, so we still have foreign language but not as much as we did. You don't want to show pain at the expense of the child.
The child is a first grader only once. Will the pain hit? Who will it hurt?

Four years ago, our K-2 were within guidelines, we are hearing from parents, there will not be an anomaly across the district, we are not hiding teachers. That is the decision for the override, it is all about class size

The decision to shorten the day is odious but between keeping three teachers and shortening the day, we'll keep the teachers.

The decisions we have made haven't made it up to the high school yet to show the impact on SATs and college placements.

Middle School
4 - 7th and 8th positions were cut
4 - 6th grade
3 - music positions
general music class was entirely eliminated, no general music instruction
no librarians for 10,000 volumes
health PE position reduced by 3
1 guidance position
3 foreign language positions

A lot of these reductions were done trying to provide the least impact on students
One teacher traveling around the district for choral
class size will increase, how quickly will you see the impact, the principals will be dealing with issues that perhaps would have been dealt with in the classroom with a smaller class
The results of the MetroWest Health services are showing issues
We don't off French in the middle schools, students need to choose between Latin or Spanish

How important is the middle school model?
Major movement away from the Jr High model, what students are facing with the social media effects outside the schools, during the time in the middle schools, we get to know our students, the soft skills are incorporated into the curriculum, when you think of the zero m-2 (walking and talking) but when you think of the 11-13 (this is even more important)

This carries over to the high school and helps to determine the success there

We also look at middle school to explore all aspect of the curriculum, we have run out of places to cut at the elementary, we are getting there at the middle school, what will the program look like? These will be challenging and difficult discussions if we don't have sufficient funding.

High School
I look back at what public schools were supposed to be, it has gotten to the point where the test scores, recalling a series of facts in three curriculum content areas is misleading. These three things are not the only ones that count. The things that don't get measured, especially loving to learn goes by the wayside. Narrowing the curriculum is really dangerous.

One of the barometers I use is do the 8th grade parents feel confident sending their kids here. I'll sepaparet

9% chose private (Xaverian, Bsish Feehan) two years ago
13% chose private last year
this year 8.5%
This is good

6% chose Tri-County two years ago
13% more than doubled last year (68 students)
13% is the same this year (68 students)
they provide a much broader frame of services for the hands on education, Tri-County continues to provide that compared to what we have cut and no longer offer.
there is an increase in special ed referrals, especially for the first time in the 9th grade

We went through a major schedule change as a result of increasing class sizes over the years
It had gotten to an unacceptable level
We did significantly change the schedule to bring the class sizes in the core areas down
What happened to the students, they lost opportunities to take electives
Instead of 150 papers, they are correcting 120-125

From the students, there is a narrower curriculum
special education student are forced to chose between an elective and a language

From a teachers stand point, a concept that would be hard to understand for the Town, common planning time was eliminated, try doing that in any business, they would not be able to function long term

Common assessment no matter what teacher has each student, the issue is that there is nothing done with that evaluation to meet the changing needs of the students

The curriculum needs to change, no amount of good instruction replaces the time and changes in the curriculum to meet the needs required

Lost 2 asst principals
recommendations are for 10-12 per evaluator, we are currently at 40 per evaluator
the transmission isn't firing, we can't be as quick to react

Founded on the concept of free public education, yet the district is requiring the students and families to pay for things that otherwise they shouldn't be

What are we and where are we going?

Guidance services are barely meeting the NEASC requirements
approx 300 students per counselor
sets up a two-tier system, families with means can go outside to find a "college coach"
There is an interest but we can not pursue improving technology due to lack of resources

Tri-County per pupil is 17,000 versus the 10,000 in Franklin
we lose the Chap 70 revenue and get hit with the higher cost for the students going to Tri-County

We had a model with four asst principals, each took a grade and a set of teachers for evaluations, plus other responsibilities for overall education within the building
We needed someone to look at the overall educational requirements regarding data to support the educational requirements, we dedicated one asst principal to do so, leaving the other two asst principals to split the four classes amongst themselves
Anybody can do disciple or the pain and punishment, what should be done is what can be done to improve the students ability to access the curriculum
When you cut out the R&D, you can go too long without having isues

Supervision and evaluation is the most important thing we can do, the other role is plant management, either is a full time job
Research says 10-12 teachers per evaluator, we range 40-60 currently, we are using some of the core teachers to handle some of the plant management (i.e running fire drills, etc.).

Shared facilities, the issues differ significantly in elementary from the middle school
We are chartered with providing a safe learning environment
We are in contact with the parents on a daily basis
We are being pulled in many directions

One of the poorest school district rallies behind their schools
Then I come back to a gem and we are tearing it bits and pieces away
It really is criminal with what we are doing
The teachers and administration are preparing the students to live in the new world

We are beyond efficiency

Natalie Roy
ten years ago, I had much different resources than they do now
our high schoolers are performing well going on to good schools, they are not getting what I got.
there is a rather severe gap

(reading line items of the budget, if a hold is requested, additional time will be spent on that item)
librarians - hold (Sue)
professional development - hold (Sue)
text books, media materials - hold (Bill)
instructional software - hold (Sue)

increase due to library assistances, likely a recoding of a position to more correctly reflect the proper reporting (other line item is going down)

professional development - a reclassification of education previously allocated to special ed teachers but is really for all teachers who need crisis training

text books, media materials - totally up to the principals, this is replacement of existing text books (lost worn out), or to accommodate increased enrollment

instructional software - annual maintenance cost for licensing, ed line, electronic report cards for elementary

Closing the budget hearing

motion to approve the budget, passed 7-0

Franklin, MA

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