Monday, December 14, 2020

School Budget info for the Finance Committee meeting Dec 15

To: Franklin Finance Committee

From: Sara E. Ahern, Ed.D., Superintendent and Miriam Goodman, School Business Administrator Date: 

December 10, 2020
RE: December 15th Meeting Information

The following information is being provided in response to the questions submitted from the Finance Committee in advance of the meeting with the School Department on December 15th. We look forward to the discussion and opportunity to answer your questions.

The link above describes a general update related to school department revenue and expenses, particularly related to reopening school amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

The latest Monthly Financial Report ( the Franklin Public Schools identifies a balance of $2,266,983. Despite this balance, there are additional expenses that are not yet encumbered including contractual obligations that come due in January, ongoing hourly obligations, and supplies, materials and services that schools and departments will need to complete the year. Additionally, we reclassify expenses to revolving accounts, as needed throughout the year.

The Franklin Public Schools is on track to spend within the bottom line appropriation. We are tracking expenses and savings carefully during a very unusual year where there is more fluidity to our budget than normal due to the pandemic.

A summary of revolving accounts can be found in the monthly financial report linked above.

2. Enrollment for the year and total enrollment of the district.

The October enrollment information (from which next year’s Chapter 70 funding is based) was presented to the School Committee on October 27, 2020 and can be found in the following link:

 October 1 Enrollment Report

Like many districts, we are seeing a decrease in enrollment this year for pandemic-related reasons, however our decrease has not been the same in magnitude as experienced elsewhere.

McKibben and Associates completed an error analysis of the enrollment forecast presented in February 2020. Our enrollment is 2.2% less than forecasted and the vast majority of this decrease is in PreK and Kindergarten. This is consistent with trends seen across the state amidst the pandemic, where families are making alternate choices (including delaying the start of school) for their young children. McKibben cites that most districts are showing a 3.4 to 7.5% loss.

3. Update on the Davis Thayer Facilities Analysis

The Facilities Analysis Subcommittee continues to meet as part of the comprehensive closing study initiated in the fall of 2019. The Subcommittee is in stage 2 of phase 1.

Initial data collection (stage 1/phase 1) is complete, having received enrollment forecast from McKibben Associates in February, 2020 and the Comprehensive Facilities Analysis Report (12/1/2020 update posted to website linked above).

As part of stage 2 of phase 1, family, staff, and community perspectives were collected in a questionnaire that closed on December 2 and was discussed at the December 9 Subcommittee meeting.

The Subcommittee will collect information regarding the financial, staffing, transportation implications, and pandemic related considerations of closing Davis Thayer Elementary School and relocating students to the Keller Elementary School as recommended by Kaestle Boos Architects in early January. After this information is shared, the Subcommittee will evaluate options and present them to the full School Committee.

4. Staffing dynamics and what the district needs.

While we had initially anticipated a significant reduction in state aid (5-20%), the state legislature and Governor have level funded Chapter 70 at FY20 values. As a result, we have not had to layoff as many employees as we anticipated.

We provided the School Committee with a Personnel Update in September that identified the staffing situation as we started the year. As a result of additional funding through Coronavirus relief funds as well as shifted needs based on DESE expectations for learning models, we restored many of the positions that had been non-renewed in June and added additional positions related to virtual and hybrid learning environments. Unfortunately, we are experiencing staffing shortages making it difficult to fully supervise students in our schools during this unusual year.

As for future needs, we do not have a crystal ball about how school will look in the fall with respect to health and safety practices, including social distancing. We are, however, optimistic that 2021-2022 will be a more normal school year with vaccinations and additional monitoring/testing in place. Through the budget, a big priority will be planning for post-pandemic recovery in terms of providing tiered supports to address academic skill gaps and expanding social-emotional needs of children. We also anticipate expanded, ongoing needs to support the dramatic shifts teachers have made in teaching with instructional technology (10 GB Bandwidth, technology support, device replenishment).

5. Future spending metrics.

Under normal circumstances, we had previously identified that level service budget needs approximate a
$3.4M increase annually. FY21 has been a most unusual budget to plan for and to implement with the uncertainty at the state level well into the fiscal year and the infusion of stimulus funds. We anticipate that FY22 will similarly be an unusual budget to plan for given some of the unknowns related to school operations in the fall. We are communicating closely with the Town Administrator’s office to make fiscally responsible decisions in advance of FY22.

6. MA School Based Medicaid Billing Overview

7. Additional Information
 Budget Workshop Documents

8. Student to Teacher Ratios

Student to teacher ratios are published on the School and District Profile pages of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s website. The most current information posted there is 2019-2020. We have run numbers internally to compute the values for Franklin High School and the middle schools, which are represented in the graphs below. We do not have a state level comparison so 2020-2021 is not included in the Franklin vs. State chart. Student to teacher ratios for 2020-2021 at the elementary level will not yield productive historical comparisons due to the hybrid/remote instructional model and unpredictable, uneven enrollment of 272 students from the six elementary schools in remote-only instruction through the Virtual Learning Academy.

the snow has just about disappeared since this photo was taken
the snow has just about disappeared since this photo was taken

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