Saturday, January 29, 2011

Live reporting - School Budget Workshop - (after break)

Part 1 can be found here

Question - Rohrbach
Basically level service budget, some positions under ARRA have been included, some have not - hence the "not-quite-level-service" budget.  What does the 1.7M  represent?

Goodman - most of the 1.7 M is accounted for by the 1.1M ARRA funds expiring. The remainder are due to contractual obligations under which we are still negotiation.

Rohrbach - we have been in maintenance mode,

Sabolinksi - level service is a misnomer, 14 plus positions are eliminated, classroom  teachers
5 elem, 3 middle school, Director Alt Ed, etc. are positions that are not in this budget.

Glynn - We have the not-so-level service, we have seen what it would look like with the average State per pupil expenditure. Do we have a feel for what would be in the middle? What we would restore here and there previously cut?

Sabolinski - We could do a lot with 10M

Glynn - where is it that we would restore to, so that we could feel good about it?
Kingsland-Smith - how about getting to average?

Sabolinski - If we got 10M we could bring 60 teachers back, that would be huge for class size, programs, etc. We don't need to jump to $78 million to be great. We could jump halfway there and still be better than average.

Powderly - I am looking for something that people will hold on to. I'd love to have some illustrative points to tel the story.

Roy - The most pressure we are in is with the teachers contract. There was a sense that the teachers weren't hearing the School Committee. There was a sense that the School Committee wasn't hearing the teachers. We had a special session about 2.5 hours open session where we heard those stories about what is going on. People are protective, they don't want morale to fall. The only thing they care about is the kids in the classroom. It was certainly very impact full to hear the teachers tell the stories.

Powderly - I know your hearing and there are folks who would use that in a malicious manner.

Jones - that is the beauty of the anonymity of the comments in a newspaper article. How do we convince the community that we need an investment in the community?

Roy - I think if we can get the nine voices on the Council to buy into this, that will go along way. It is very difficult to build this beautiful piece but it is so easy to tear it down. One naysayer throwing out a comment can   undo that.

Cafasso - when we do the presentation to the community and to the Council, we need to include the DESE numbers on the state averages. There are 6200 kids in the district. 20% of this community is in school, don't tell me to cut the fat. We appreciate the Town taking over the facilities, it was a good move. 60% of this Town isn't paid for by the Town, it is paid for by people who buy lottery tickets.

Glynn - for the sake of argument, if we put together a budget around a number below the average but above where we are.

Jones - It is the democratic way that determines the decision. What it boils down to is that the naysayers are winning. We are not going to change the way the game is played just because you don't get what you want.
We are not in the best economic position to propose this. There is more to this than just the numbers, there is the overall value of the Town based upon the education, the outcome of the future due to our children's education.

Roy - that is a great segway to the next segment of this discussion on the impact of the budget.


Mrs Minkle - We have been telling this story since 2002 when we started loosing teachers and programs. Our top priority is classroom teachers and class size. range from 18-27. Depends upon building population. We haven't yet had kindergarten registration, so that is open. We are using the last years number asa starting point

Rohrbach - 23 out of 125 classes would be above recommended class size?
Minke - Yes, that is correct.

Sabolinski - This is based upon the $52 M budget propsed. If we don't get all of that, the numbers would be different.

Cafasso - Are there other program impacts?

Minkle - we are feeling the effects across the board, every one of those cuts effects the students in the classroom. Just the amount of time on each student decreases. We are always asked to do more with less, RTI, ELL, the list is growing - these are unfunded mandates.

Kingsland-Smith - the 2008 data showed testing in three buildings, we have testing in every building. Some recent immigrants speak no English whatsoever. Classroom teachers, specialists, etc are now engaging in additional team work to set plans for at risk students.

Rohrbach - The cuts started in 2002? how would

Minkle - 22 vs. 28 on class size, amount of time a student can get from their teacher. These are our most vulnerable. From K to 12. These are our future. The experiences they are missing can not be replaced.

Roy - I remember last year during the budget, I got a text from my daughter who came to the meeting to speak personally to the changes she has seen.

Sabolinksi - instrumental music doesn't exist in Elementary anymore, yet expectations at Federal and State level have increased (unfunded mandates, etc.) We have relied on our teachers so we have been able to survive.

Kingsland-Smith - in the MCAS scores, Elementary was out of a problem zone, the last couple of years we are seeing these scores creeping in.

Lisa Trainor - we can see being efficient with less, over time the working conditions are not something you can maintain, there are increases in absence, increases in grievence.

Middle schools

Beth Wittcoff
17 classes will exceed recommendation on class size with the loss of 6 teacher positions
Math CET loss will risk gains made in AYP, the gains made in large part to the Match CETs
Provide acceleration for 7th graders as well as those falling behind

24 positions lost since 2004,
loss of a dedicated health class, infusing health anywhere they can see fit.
Latin instruction was loss but switched to Spanish
in ago of response to intervention (RTI) it is a challenge, it is not just an obligation, it is a calling

Michael Levine
Sometimes it works to our disadvantage that we are so efficient, the social emotional problems that occur during this age, if they are not addressed by the teachers and faculty

Paul Pieri
It is also the appearance we put forward, do we still do foreign language, to go from offering three languages to offering one, the extent of it has drastically changed from 2002 to now.

Glynn - you expressed it very well, it is a calling. Education is being eroded, "not in my classroom" was an immediate response from one teacher.

Sabolinski - the principals are trying to insulate the teachers as much as possible from the budget discussions. I have a monthly round table. Morale is really good, we appreciate not having conversations about budget all the time. Come April/May, there will be more anxiety, but the teachers have been allowed to focus on education. As for the principals, this is not a seasonal thing, we are working at this all year, trying to think how we can do more with less, do things better with what we have.

High School

Mr Light
Director, ALP is a loss, a number of the teachers at the high school
1100 principal, director of student services, 4 asst
1600 principal, 3 asst principals - effectively lost about 40% of the administration with a larger school

These are the neediest students in Franklin, because we have been successful in this program, our dropouts have decreased, from 26 to 5, amongst the best in the state. The work that coordinator does has been critical to that success. The work will have to shift, where we have not yet determined.

The high school has been impacted by reductions across the district. The language program because a more meeting students needs rather than a well thought out program.

There is a reduction in type and breadth of programs. The Math, ELA, and Science are where the focus is due to where the reporting is required. All the other services are less priority.

It costs Franklin much more to send a student to Tri-County as it does to educate here. Many of the students end up coming back because the educational needs are not being met there, but the money has already gone out of the district and doesn't come back that year.

Sabolinski - I think we have tried to layout in the budget what it will take to stop the hemorrhaging of resources. I see this as essential to maintaining our programs. We are really at a district out of places to cut. We can not cut administrative staff. This is a pivotal time for the school community. Education after this would become unrecognizable to what we used to be able to provide in 2002.

Roy - You have talked today about the $52M and 5% increase, it does not cover impacts about what would happen if we don't get that amount.

Rohrbach - Each asst principal covers 850 students each? What is a good number?
Light - I think around 500-600 would be better.
Rohrbach - so the loss of one has an impact

Rohrbach - one question we have received is could we have one principal over both middle and elementary schools?

Minke- one, I am not certified for Middle School, it is a separate factor. If we don't have the social/emotional factors covered for each age group, education will not occur.

Kingsland-Smith - The schools are divided for a reason, there is a whole lot of educational thought and science put into the building arrangement and educational process.

Wycoff - it would create a 900-1000 student school, Franklin was instrumental in getting to smaller buildings and it was reflected in the district performance. This would be a significant step back. In order to do this job right, it takes time. We are working with the students to help them learn and learn from their mistakes.

Trainor - I don't think you would save any money on a cost benefit analysis.

Roy - Scheduling of buildings is difficult, you are going through scheduling and that is also a negotiation point so we won't get into details. Can you speak to the schedule changes?

Light - We looked at our class sizes and wanted to avoid getting into 30+ students per class and adjusted the schedule dropping one period. We have no way financially to get that seventh period back. We can't afford to bring in sufficient teachers to do so. The kids would like to take an additional elective but we can't go there.

Rohrbach - can you do more on the transfer out of Franklin High topic?

Light - We lost 150 students to private and vocational schools,  $16K plus for Tri-County vs. $10K for FHS.

Sabolinski - If the students don't fit what the program is, are invited to leave Tri-County. We are looking at numbers and in particular, in the period shortly after October the students come back. October 1 is the cut off for State numbers that determine the funding.

Roy - Now the Tr-County budget also goes before the Town Council and in recent years they have gotten few if any questions. When Franklin comes before the Council for a dime, we get grilled. You can help turn that tide.

Glynn - at a high level would would it take to get that schedule?
Light - about 15-20 teachers at a minimum

Glynn - The report reflecting data from two years ago, when we had that schedule, showed we were highly efficient. Yet we can't get back to that without millions of dollars.

Trahan - we know what the research says, we know what the kids need, yet every year the budget gets cut. We thank you for all you do. For the one override that did pass, it will take a united council to bring it forward to the people. I was on the first Long Range Financial Planning, I am not on the second go around. If the Council can at least understand at least half of what we have found today, that will help. Thanks to Miriam  for the budget presentation. I am not a budget person and I can understand this.

Jones - I can not speak for the Council. Really and truly, all that we can ask is that we look for in every area we can find, a dollar reduction. We try and keep things on a lean level and try to keep education. It is a balancing act. It is a lot for us to ask of the Town. It will take an effort of everyone we know. Everyone should get a little information to pass along. We can't fix what has been done but we can fix what lies ahead. Not only get it to them but make them understand it.

Roy - I think we heard today that we can not cut any more. We have to take responsibility for our kids. We have to have the community to step up to the plate. We need to fund our responsibilities. I am not convinced that we are meeting our obligations.

Glynn - if this level of taxes is what we can afford, then the services need to adjust. If you can't understand the future, look at what is happening to Egypt. If you are worried about the debt level, worry about the educational preparation that these kids will have.

Franklin, MA

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