Showing posts with label unfunded mandate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label unfunded mandate. Show all posts

Thursday, December 3, 2020

School Committee Budget Workshop - Recap - Dec 1, 2020

Quick Recap:

  • lots of information to digest in this broad overview of the finances supporting education in the school district
  • at one point in this workshop, in attempting to answer a question about "What if?" (261 districts spend more than Franklin currently does), the discussion led one member to go off. The response to this was professional and articulate by the Superintendent and Business Administrator
  • attempt at quantifying the impact of 'unfunded mandates' was thoughtful and conservative albeit incomplete but that is the situation 
  • more to come as there will be a 'deep dive' with the Finance Committee on Dec 15
  • Consensus was to bring back the Legislative Forum (held in three prior years) and start planing for
Photos shared via Twitter during the meeting can be found in one folder:


----

As with most meetings in this pandemic period, I took my notes via Twitter during the meeting reporting in real-time via the virtual session.
 
The Twitter hashtag can be found online  #schcomBW1201


  • #schcomBW1201 SchComm budget workshop about to begin at 6 PM. Listen in to gain insights on the budget issues the schools face (and how they might begin to resolve them, I hope)
  • School Committee budget workshop - Tuesday, Dec 1 - 6:00 PM  = use your web browser to watch the Live Stream https://franklinma.gov/home/pages/live-meetings-stream   #schcomBW1201
  • Missed a few minutes for recording purposes, my tech issue, #schcomBW1201 workshop framed in opening comments by Chair Bergen, Business Admin Miriam Goodman acknowledges work of intern to prepare deck/info. Superintendent will also lead parts of workshop
  • Use agenda doc https://franklinps.net/sites/g/files/vyhlif4431/f/agendas/budget_workshop_agenda_0.pdf  to follow along if necessary. #schcomBW1201
  • #schcomBW1201 opening slide frame process and timeline for budget development and discussion towards approval (based upon typical budget - this year FY 21 is not yet completed by State)
  • "Where should we be within the range of per pupil expenses?" "We should spend with the money allocated by the town" counseling is a priority we have not yet addressed #schcomBW1201 Community relations is a priority where are we spending, how are we spending.
  • "We need to paint the picture of what we need and let the community decide. SEL work is important and from that comes special ed, gifted and talented, etc. Would support more counseling." Need to create vision around portrait of a graduate and how much it will cost #schcomBW1201
  • "We can make a wish list but how can we deliver if we don't have the basics." "How much is needed to provide the best education in MA for the students here in Franklin?" Individualized training for professional development, not just throwing money at PD. #schcomBW1201
  • Moving to info gathered, 3 years of data and comparison among comparable districts #schcomBW1201 use agenda doc to follow link to pupil expenses
  • Next up, what would our pupil expenses look like if we matched 50% of the state average (which is more than we do today) #schcomBW1201
  • 261 districts spend more than Franklin currently does. #schcomBW1201 continuing this thought line, it would add $15M to our budget (where the money would come from is another story) not an all inclusive listing, other committees have seen something like this
  • Franklin is at the 25%, are we comfortable to be there. Franklin currently finances teacher benefits what would the PPE look like? Is that calculated in the same way across the districts. Pfeffer goes off the edge in workshop misunderstanding the numbers discussed #schcomBW1201
  • Calm, professional response from Superintendent Ahern to Pfeffer concludes that the official budget proposal will come forward later in the cycle. Business Admin Goodman also a great response. #schcomBW1201
  • The listing and comparison is enlightening. It is not insulting to share info on what we could have and others do have. They need to know to make an informed decision to determine what we get (or don't) #schcom1201 moving to unfunded mandates working diligently to define
  • Quantification of unfunded mandates is hard, Student opportunity act outlines issues with the funding behind that. Did make estimates for some items included in second link in agenda doc #schcomBW1201
  • #schcomBW1201 the funding is highly regulated and some of the providers are uncomfortable with the reporting requirements. The funds coming into the Town end up in general coffers (not school side).
  • Use of revolving accounts, enrollment, student teacher ratio are among other topics being prepared for a FinCom discussion scheduled for Dec 15 #schcomBW1201 what else would Committee like to see in pamphlet for informing the Community.
  • "FPS budget is not funded fully, would like to see it proposed to be in line with the Town designation". Common questions: what have we list, what are we saving? Updating what's there is needed. #schcomBW1201 add key elements of portrait of a graduate.
  • Question on the enrollment, and significant changes re: trend of pandemic enrollment, also part of a recent Globe article. Did see an increase in pure home school students (approx 28 to 70). % attrition per demographer is good compared to other Communities #schcomBW1201
  • Pamphlet is one way, we'd take to Community relations to see how we can get it. Working with Anne Marie to produce a video on school budget 101, about 75% done. Explain difference between level funding and level service. #schcomBW1201
  • Legislative forum? Yes. To plan for! motion to adjourn, via roll call vote passes 6-0 (D'Angelo not present) That's all for tonight, catch you next time #schcomBW1201

 

School Committee Budget Workshop - Recap - Dec 1, 2020
School Committee Budget Workshop - Recap - Dec 1, 2020


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

FM #223 - Stormwater Utility Fee Info Session 1 - March 6, 2020 (audio)

FM #223 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 223 in the series.

The Town Council Stormwater Utility Fee Subcommittee held the first of three information scheduled sessions to review the proposed stormwater utility fee as a response to the Federal mandate required by the EPA MS4 regulations.

Subcommittee Chair Melanie Hamblen presided over the presentation and discussion. Councilor Eamon Earls joined her. Councilors Dellorco and Jones are also reported to be on the subcommittee but were not present for this session.

Franklin Police dog Ben Franklin made a special appearance.

The presentation was led by DPW Director Robert (Brutus) Cantoreggi, GIS Coordinator Kate Sjoberg, and consultant Jean Haggerty. Town Administrator Jamie Hellen was key among the other participants. Those who had questions or comments identified themselves for the broadcast.

The audio segment runs almost 2 hours, so let’s listen in to the presentation and discussion of the stormwater utility fee. https://www.hipcast.com/podcast/HyBRS1pX






--------------

The handout can be found online at the new Stormwater Division page
https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/franklinma/files/uploads/ms4_permit_-_quick_facts.pdf

Visit the Stormwater Division page to review the mitigation plan as well as the MS4 itself  https://www.franklinma.gov/stormwater-division

Visit “Soak it up Franklin” https://www.soakitupfranklinma.org/

The presentation is not yet available on the Town of Franklin page. When it is, I’ll add the link here


We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio (wfpr.fm).

This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but we can't do it alone. We can always use your help.

How can you help?
  • If you can use the information that you find here, please tell your friends and neighbors
  • If you don't like something here, please let me know

Through this feedback loop we can continue to make improvements. I thank you for listening.

For additional information, please visit Franklinmatters.org/
If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana" c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission.

I hope you enjoy!

------------------

You can also subscribe and listen to Franklin Matters audio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app; search in "podcasts" for "Franklin Matters"

Franklin Police dog Ben Franklin made a special appearance
Franklin Police dog Ben Franklin made a special appearance




Monday, May 28, 2018

School Committee - Recap - May 22, 2018

The School Committee meeting featured recognition of some of the teachers retiring this year, the superintendent's evaluation, and a presentation on yet another unfunded mandate from the State.

Teacher retirements

Five teachers were present to be recognized for their years of service for the school district. The total number retiring from the district was not revealed. The listing of teachers that had been provided in prior years was not available before the meeting nor post meeting (as least as of Sunday, May 27).


FHS guidance Ms Dolan flanked by School Committee Chair Ann Bergen  and Superintendent Sara Ahern
FHS guidance Ms Dolan flanked by School Committee Chair Ann Bergen
and Superintendent Sara Ahern

Oak St kindergarten teacher Dolores Sherlock flanked by School Committee Chair Ann Bergen and Superintendent Sara Ahern
Oak St kindergarten teacher Dolores Sherlock flanked by School Committee Chair Ann Bergen
and Superintendent Sara Ahern

Bob O'Brian flanked by School Committee Chair Ann Bergen and Superintendent Sara Ahern
HMMS Math teachers Bob O'Brian flanked by School Committee Chair Ann Bergen
and Superintendent Sara Ahern

Parmenter math specialist Mrs Dauley flanked by School Committee Chair Ann Bergen and Superintendent Sara Ahern
Parmenter math specialist Mrs Dauley flanked by School Committee Chair Ann Bergen
and Superintendent Sara Ahern

FHS Terese Danizio-To flanked by School Committee Chair Ann Bergen   and Superintendent Sara Ahern
FHS Terese Danizio-To flanked by School Committee Chair Ann Bergen 
and Superintendent Sara Ahern 


group photo
group photo

Superintendent Evaluation


Superintendent Ahern evaluation was reported out an voted on with one dissenting vote. Dr Monica Linden's statement outlining her rational was posted after the meeting here
http://www.franklinmatters.org/2018/05/statement-by-dr-monica-linden-franklin.html

The evaluation document itself has not yet been posted to the School Committee meeting document page.
http://franklinschool.vt-s.net/Pages/FranklinCom_Packets/m5-22-18%20SC%20Packet/

Unfunded Mandate


Yet another unfunded mandate required for implementation by the State of MA was outlined by Asst Superintendent Peter Light. The presentation document is usually released after the meeting but as of Sunday had not been available on the school webpage. I did capture photos of each page to share
http://www.franklinmatters.org/2018/05/live-reporting-discussion-action-items.html


Note: Dolores Sherlock is my better half

My notes reported live during the meeting;

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"people need to consider how it is going to be paid"

Representative Jeffrey Roy is putting his experience dealing with unfunded mandates to good use.
Drawing from his experience in local government, Roy has co-sponsored a bill to establish a commission to study unfunded mandates imposed on public schools. 
A section in the 1993 education bill was similar to what Roy and other sponsors want - a commission to review and evaluate all legislative requirements related to education and to make recommendations to eliminate or reduce some of the mandates. 
"No commission was ever formed since 1993," Roy said. "We are not asking you to discontinue this practice, what we are asking you to do is study the practice.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

A list of the unfunded mandates required for schools as of 2009 can be found here
http://www.franklinmatters.org/2009/03/state-education-mandates-part-1.html
http://www.franklinmatters.org/2009/03/state-education-mandates-part-2.html
http://www.franklinmatters.org/2009/03/state-education-mandates-part-3.html

The Mass Association of School Committees (MASC) document listing the unfunded mandates is now located here:
http://www.masc.org/advocacy-center/position-papers/131-getting-ready-for-a-difficult-budget-setting-process


Thursday, July 11, 2013

"a form of vital relief"

Unfunded mandates that drive implementation costs for school districts are finally getting some attention.

Addressing many of the mandates, Ludlow Public Schools Superintendent Todd Gaza said at the hearing, "The new teacher evaluation regulations, bullying legislation, implementation of the Common Core … all require professional development for our teachers in order to meet their requirements. This leaves little time for other professional activities." 
Daniel Gutekanst testified that the grind to put in place all of the mandates actually steals time away from improving classroom learning. 
"The pace of change and reform is grueling and unrelenting," Gutekanst said. "Teachers, school staff and principals are increasingly required to address and attend to mandates and initiatives that leave them little time to personalize learning experiences for children in their charge."

Read more: http://www.milforddailynews.com/news/x946750480/Roy-co-sponsors-bill-on-unfunded-mandates-for-school-districts#ixzz2YjMbbND6


Related posts:

Jun 16 - summary of impacts that unfunded mandates will have for the coming school year
http://www.franklinmatters.org/2013/06/in-news-unfunded-mandates-structurally.html

The first article in MDN (Jun 29) about the hearing on this bill
http://www.franklinmatters.org/2013/06/reduce-mountainous-regulatory.html

Rep Jeff Roy's newsletter describing his co-sponsorship of the legislation (Jul 7)
http://www.franklinmatters.org/2013/07/rep-roy-july-newsletter-whats-happening.html


Saturday, June 29, 2013

"reduce the mountainous regulatory obligations"

It's about time! The Milford Daily News reports on a new proposal to address the unfunded mandates that school districts are forced to implement. The focus of the article is on Framingham and doesn't reference Franklin. However, this has long been a complaint of the School Committee and district officials here so I am sure that Franklin will be following this closely.
"We need relief," said Framingham School Committee Chairwoman Beverly Hugo, who wrote the original draft and testified at Thursday's public hearing. "Some of these (mandates) are redundant or duplicative." 
While some of the requirements - which in recent years have been introduced to address bullying, teacher evaluations, and school nutrition, among other issues - may be necessary to some degree, she added, "there's no analysis that shows whether these reports (submitted by schools) improve student achievement or services to children in the classroom." 
What is known, Hugo said, is the cost to districts to fill out thousands of pages of paperwork that are required by the mandates. Framingham, for instance, had to hire several vice principals in recent years to keep up with the greater workloads created by the state's new teacher evaluation system.

Read more: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/x853679261/Bill-takes-aim-at-unfunded-mandates-for-school-districts#ixzz2XbFTz67L



Related posts:

Earlier this month "Area school officials are concerned the mandates, including a new teacher evaluation system, additional training to educate English Language Learners (ELL) and new fingerprinting requirements, are too much, too soon."
http://www.franklinmatters.org/2013/06/in-news-unfunded-mandates-structurally.html
Reporting on truancy was touted in 2012
http://www.franklinmatters.org/2012/08/another-unfunded-mandate.html

A listing of state unfunded mandates posted in 2010
http://www.franklinmatters.org/2010/05/state-education-mandates-collection.html

Reporting on bullying was added in 2009
http://www.franklinmatters.org/2009/11/another-unfunded-mandate-coming-down.html


Sunday, June 16, 2013

In the News: Unfunded mandates, structurally deficient bridges


Even with a few more weeks left in the school year, administrators and teachers are already bracing for next year when Massachusetts school districts will begin undertaking a number of mandates expected to improve education.

Cars drive over almost two dozen structurally deficient bridges locally and hundreds statewide spanning railroad tracks, rivers, roads and lakes. Local officials say the key to repairing or replacing these bridges is, no surprise, money.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

New law requires national background check for teachers

The background check for current employees needs to be completed prior to the 2016-17 school year. This new law expands the scope of the background check to include potential criminal records outside of MA. This is likely another unfunded mandate. Allowing until 2016-17 to implement will attempt to soften the burden upon the district. Normally, the background check is done prior to hiring and with the 'normal' turnover would happen for about 30-50 folks.


Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Wicked Local Franklin News RSS by Staff reports on 1/11/13

Gov. Deval Patrick has signed a bill authorizing the Department of Early Education and Care and school districts to conduct fingerprint-supported national criminal history background checks on all teachers, school employees and early education providers in the state.

Things you can do from here:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Another unfunded mandate?

A news release from State Senator Karen Spilka's office touts a new pilot program to provide services to children in trouble outside of the existing court process. This sounds good. Tucked away in the details is this line:
Requires school districts to establish truancy prevention programs that would be offered to habitually truant students before referring them to juvenile court.
That sounds a lot like an unfunded mandate to me.


The full detail of the release from Sen Spilka's office:
The Legislature today sent to the Governor legislation that will update the current system for handling children who consistently get in trouble at home or at school, including runaways and students who are habitually truant, transforming the 38-year-old Children in Need of Services (CHINS) program that critics say unnecessarily puts troubled children in front of a judge before seeking services to help the children and their families. 
“The current system is too complex and too confusing, and it unnecessarily drags some children in front of a judge over and over again,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “More than half of these children have some kind of mental health disorder and need better care and services instead of this taxing exposure to the courts which studies show will make them more likely to be involved in serious crimes later in life. The reforms in this bill will improve children’s lives and help keep families together.” 
“I am proud that Chairman Dempsey, Leader Donato, members of the conference committee and the Legislature as a whole have taken strong action to protect at-risk youths,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “We need to get many of these children out of the legal system and into services and other support programs with their families so we can best ensure that they lead lives as productive residents of our state. These are practical reforms that help children and families in the short term and strengthen the Commonwealth in the long-term.” 
“For several decades, the CHINS system has not been working as intended by the legislature to keep children out of the juvenile justice system,” said Senator Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), chief Senate sponsor of the bill. “It is difficult to overestimate the importance of passing this critical reform. This bill will give the thousands of children and families who need assistance each year a clearer path to accessing the services and supports they need without exacerbating their situation and before it becomes dire. The bill will make a huge, positive difference in the lives of our families, our friends, our neighbors, our communities, and will strengthen our state as a whole.” 
“This legislation would be the first step in replacing the existing “Children in Need of Services” (CHINS) system – which is not meeting the needs of children and families in the Commonwealth,” said Third Division Chair Paul Donato (D-Medford). “This reform will replace CHINS in the future with a new system that will provide preventative services and keep children in their homes and schools without overburdening courts, police and probation. It will create a statewide system of community-based programs that will provide direct access to mental health or substance abuse counseling.” 
“This legislation is important to address the needs of children and families across Massachusetts,” said Senator Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster), a conferee and Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Children in the CHINS system are an extremely vulnerable population and it is incumbent upon us, as public officials, to improve the manner in which services are received. I’m proud of this legislation for enhancing the process by which families are able to request and receive services for their children. I am confident that many provisions in this legislation will enhance the ability to help these families and ultimately strengthen the foundation for their future." 
“Through this legislation, the conferees were able to agree to this thoughtful approach that moves us in the right direction of reforming the CHINS system,” said House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Brian S. Dempsey (D-Haverhill). “I feel strongly that the pilot programs created by this legislation will allow us to accurately identify families and children who can be better served by alternative services to the court system.” 
“I am pleased the Legislature has made this bill a priority prior to adjournment,” said Senator Michael Knapik (R-Westfield), the ranking Republican member of the conference committee. “By incorporating families into the process and keeping juveniles out of the court system, I am confident this bill will connect at-risk youth with the appropriate resources so that behavior modification and counseling can have the desired long-term impact.” 
“This reform will strengthen families, guide children away from the criminal justice system, and reduce costs by focusing resources on prevention rather than punishment. It makes sense on many levels and I am pleased it received bipartisan support,” said State Representative Dan Winslow (R-Norfolk), who previously served as a District Court Judge. 
The bill breaks down barriers between the juvenile court, parents and the community, and it creates a second access point for children to receive necessary services. 
The pilot program, established under the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, diverts children from the legal process when appropriate and instead provides behavioral, medical and mental health treatment and a number of other behavioral and preventative services including special education evaluations, mentoring, family and parent support, and after-school and out-of-school opportunities. 
The bill also:
  • De-stigmatizes the process by deleting the “CHINS” label for children receiving services;
  • Decriminalizes the process by prohibiting children requiring assistance from being arrested, confined in shackles or placed in a court lockup in connection with any request for assistance;
  • Focuses on the child and family as a unit – not just the behavior of the child – and allows the parents to be full and active participants in their child’s proceedings;
  • Ensures that the child and family fully understand procedures by requiring that information be given to parents in writing at the beginning of the court process;
  • Creates a realistic timeframe for children and families to receive the necessary services; and
  • Requires school districts to establish truancy prevention programs that would be offered to habitually truant students before referring them to juvenile court.
Finally, the bill creates a standardized data collection system to evaluate outcomes and ensure the Commonwealth and the child appropriately benefit from the new system.

More information on Senator Karen Spilka can be found on her webpage  http://karenspilka.com/

Friday, May 14, 2010

Storm water mandates

Under the proposed mandate from the EPA, which would only apply to Milford, Franklin and Bellingham, properties with two acres or more will have to manage their stormwater runoff.
Wednesday night's public information session included a presentation from the EPA about the regulations as well as time for public comment.
Rick Kaplan, owner of Kaplan Commercial Properties, recently purchased the Bellingham Plaza on Rte. 126, which has 8 acres. Kaplan, who lives in Medway, is not only concerned with the price tag of the mandate, but the fact that the actual cost is still undecided.
"It's an unknown amount of money," Kaplan said. "It's scary to me. It's not fair."
Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Stormwater mandate concerns businesses



This article helps to clarify one of the questions asked during Wednesday night's meeting on the Downtown Improvement Project. If the new mandates apply to properties in excess of 2 acres, there doesn't appear to be much of an impact for the downtown project.

If you missed the Downtown Project meeting Wednesday, you can view the video here
Downtown Improvement Project - live broadcast

The EPA meeting was also broadcast but the video has not yet been posted to the Franklin website. As soon as I see the link, I share it here.

Franklin, MA

Monday, March 1, 2010

"legislation can sometimes outstrip the resources available"

“In a time where most communities are financially strapped, I think the last thing any of us need are more reporting requirements and more administrative tasks that take away from the needs of other school functions,’’ said Jeffrey Roy, Franklin’s School Committee chairman.
The bill, which the House approved and sent to the Senate last month, would require new nutritional standards for food sold a la carte in school cafeterias, stores, and vending machines.
 Read the full article in the Sunday edition of the Boston Globe West section here




Sunday, November 15, 2009

Another unfunded mandate coming down the pike?

The advocates are focusing their attention on a bill, sponsored by Representative John Rogers, a Democrat, that would require school districts to report bullying incidents and any discipline imposed to the state. The bill, one of those to be taken up at a hearing Tuesday, has the support of such groups as the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Microsoft Corp., and the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.
The Bold is for my emphasis. You can read the full article in the Boston Sunday Globe here.

To be clear, I do not support bullying. I do know what it feels like. I was called "four-eyes" and worse growing up. Once I learned to stand up for myself, the bullying stopped. Bullies pick on those who are perceived to be weaker than themselves. Once stood up to, they generally back off.

I do think with sufficient funding, the schools can provide some help in this area. In fact, I think they are already doing what they should. 

I do believe that the responsibility to address bullying falls squarely in the realm of the parents. The parents of those bullying need to create a better home environment (easier said than done). The parents of those being bullied need to help their students stand up for themselves (coddling them doesn't cut it).

I'll focus on the unfunded mandate part because that is what we should have some control over. 

Let's recognize that even if the schools were sufficiently funded to support this reporting effort, once the kids go home, what was learned and fostered in the school environment may not be reinforced at home hence wasting the effort.

What do you think?

I added a new poll in the top center column to help obtain your feedback on this issue.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

In the News - Vietnam, state mandates

State mandates take another step
Citing evidence of early decay in children's mouths, the state plans to require nursery schools, pre-schools and other licensed day care providers to give dental care lessons and supervise cleaning if their charges are there for more than four hours a day or eat a meal.
Read the full article here:



State to require toothbrushing at daycares, preschools



"With the hectic and busy lives people live today and the mobile society that we are, it is understandable that people may forget the ultimate sacrifice made by soldiers in the Armed Forces," said Hunchard. "Maybe while stopped at a stop sign or stop light, people may notice a veteran's remembrance sign and realize the sacrifices made for our way of life."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Unfunded Mandates: Another for the listing

Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Public Health Council, a creature of the state which lacks any “administrative or executive functions” announced a new set of unfunded mandates for local school districts. Beginning with the next school year, school districts will be “required” to calculate student heights and weights into a Body Mass Index measuring their overall proportions. The results must be sent home to parents for students in first, fourth, seventh and 10th grades in a package explaining what they mean and how parents can best combat obesity. The new regulations will be phased into schools over the next 18 months. The full text of these regulations can be viewed by clicking here.
Read the full posting on the Franklin School Committee blog here

This will be another unfunded mandate to add to the listing previously published in the series of 11 posts here.

Sending the message home to the parents/guardians is going to work, right? Aren't those the same folks letting their kids sit and watch TV or play computer games instead of being outside to get exercise?

How does this happen?
A well meaning group of people get together to address a problem and find a solution without completely thinking it through.

Thinking it through needs to include paying for it. The school systems are not sitting around with free time on their hands.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

State Education Mandates - Part 11

From time to time, particular around the budget period, reference is generally made to Franklin Public Schools having to support "unfunded mandates." I managed to find a listing of such compiled by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. This is Part 11 and the final entry in the series.



Unexpended Education Funds

Massachusetts local school districts are required, unlike as in many other states, to return, at the termination of each fiscal year, unexpended/unencumbered funds to the municipality’s general fund. This requirement is counter to stimulating incentives for school districts to find creative ways to generate savings throughout the fiscal year. Municipalities often conclude that funds, which are returned at the end of the fiscal year, is misinterpreted as evidence that the school district did not really need said funds. School districts are not permitted to establish rainy day funds.

Technology

Each year, the district must have a technology plan. An annual report must be sent to the state indicating how the district is using technology to teach, how much is being spent and what the district plans to spend in the future. There are technology benchmarks that must be met by students at each grade and all students must meet state-defined technology proficiency by the end of grade 8. The development of technology plans (incorporating professional, administrative, and community personnel), the recommended student to technology (computer) ratio, and the ratio of technology personnel recommended for districts, directly affect school budget development.

Building Maintenance

Districts have a requirement to spend a minimum amount to maintain buildings and are required to pay “union scale” otherwise know as “prevailing wage,” on projects for repairs and maintenance when done by an outside contractor. This mandate results in higher costs for many skilled trade services.

The following is a list of annual inspections and tests required by the state for maintenance of buildings:

• boiler inspections;
• air tank inspections;
• fire alarm tests;
• fire suppression tests (kitchens);
• fire extinguisher tests;
• elevator & chair lift inspections;
• under-ground tank inspections/replacements,
• drainage back-flow controls,
• stage rigging inspections;
• Integrated Pest Management Plans (use of pesticides) including community notifications;
• fire sprinkler tests; and
• Asbestos inspections.
The full listing is available here (DOC)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

State Education Mandates - Part 10

From time to time, particular around the budget period, reference is generally made to Franklin Public Schools having to support "unfunded mandates." I managed to find a listing of such compiled by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. This is part 10 of the series:

According to the MA DOE website an explanation of SIMS and EPIMS can be found here:

SIMS & EPIMS

The state requires that each district have software in place that will allow districts to report data on all students and staff in a format that is compatible with the state databases. This process has been very time-consuming and costly to districts for training and updates.

With EPIMS, the labor and technology costs of providing the information to DESE are significant. Many hours are required to collect and verify information, upload it to DESE, and continually review to ensure accuracy. Administrative costs are incurred to complete the Teacher Quality Improvement Plan (TQIP) and update information. In addition, significant time is consumed by communicating with teachers and administrators to ensure validity of reporting.

With respect to SIMS, it must be recognized the reporting requirements consume significant secretarial hours and require extensive technology fund investment in terms of hardware (administrative computers) and reporting systems (student software programs). There are multiple reports required during the course of the school year.

Reporting & Auditing

The school district must provide timely reports to the state throughout the year. There is a financial end-of-year report that takes a great deal of time to prepare. An outside auditing firm must audit this report each year.

Student Activity Accounts

In a town it is required that these funds be kept in accounts under control of the Town Treasurer. The funds are deposited in an agency fund. Each school has a checkbook that allows the school to keep a small amount of cash to pay bills as needed. The checking accounts are reimbursed through a system that requires them to complete a form for reimbursement and attach the documentation. This is sent to the Business Office for verification and then sent to the Treasurer’s Office. These accounts must have a minimum of an internal audit yearly and an audit from an outside firm every three years. The town auditors perform a yearly audit on these accounts. Although this allows for more accountability, it adds a great deal of time to the workload of existing staff to monitor and process the transactions.

The full listing is available here (DOC)

Monday, March 30, 2009

State Education Mandates - Part 9

From time to time, particular around the budget period, reference is generally made to Franklin Public Schools having to support "unfunded mandates." I managed to find a listing of such compiled by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. This is Part 9 of the series:


Staffing

Professional Development - with the enactment of Education Reform, all teachers and other professional staff must be re-certified every five years. The district must provide professional development required for re-certification, with no cost to the individual employee.

Highly Qualified Staff – this requirement is a mandate that ensures employment of and reporting on highly qualified staff members and requires a substantial investment of time and money at all school levels. In many cases, there is insufficient guidance for districts that enables administrators to assist teachers and professional staff to meet the requirements established by DESE. (For example, appropriate licensure and completion of a designated number of courses is required for teaching assignments for which licensure may not exist at this time.)

Foster Care & State Wards

Districts are required to educate students who have been placed by the state in foster care and state ward settings. If a student has special needs, the town is responsible for that student’s education, even if the student is enrolled in a day or residential school that is not in town.

• Districts are also responsible for the transportation for the student. However, the local district is only responsible for regular day/vocational education of these pupils. When that student requires special education, which cost can be billed back to the district from which the student came.

Grant Percentages of Federal Grant Funds to Private Schools

School districts are required to give a percentage of grants funded under the No Child Left Behind Act to all private schools whether or not our students attend the schools. The percentage is based on total school and district populations. The district must provide reading services from its Title I grant to all schools within the state that our students attend if the schools meet certain criteria.
The full listing is available here (DOC)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

State Education Mandates - Part 8

From time to time, particular around the budget period, reference is generally made to Franklin Public Schools having to support "unfunded mandates." I managed to find a listing of such compiled by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. This is Part 8 of the series.


School Choice

This program requires all school districts to admit students from other districts in the state unless the host school district takes action to restrict or prohibit accepting non-resident students from other Massachusetts school districts.

• Admitted choice students’ siblings are thereafter entitled to enrollment in the school also, even when there is little or no space for new local students to enroll. Districts losing students to choice have no control over the students who choose to leave and are charged for the cost of those students as assessments on the Cherry sheet.
• With declining enrollments and constraints on local funds, it is expected that this “free-market-choice” of school districts will expand causing a drain on resources from more vulnerable school districts. This will have an affect on the capacity to address issues for low-income school districts often having the neediest students.

Charter Schools

School districts have no control over students who wish to attend charter schools rather than the local district and local residents have no say in how these schools operate or how their tax dollars are used unless they happen to be selected by the charter school to serve on its board of trustees. In other words, charter schools operate outside the reach of city, town, and regional government.

• Many persuasive arguments have been made to demonstrate such counter-intuitive outcomes as lower numbers of special education students enrolled, the virtual absence of limited English proficient students, and the ability of charters to transfer students out of their school back to the public school district.
• We believe that the current charter school funding formula is unreasonable because it draws away from a city or town (or region) chapter 70 allocation

The full listing is available here (DOC)