Wednesday, January 9, 2013

School Committee Needs Your Help with the Budget

The School Committee wants your feedback on the 2013-14 school year budget proposal!  

Growing enrollment, increased student needs, and program innovation all require resources and funding if Needham intends to provide the kind of education that meets the community’s high expectations for its young people and the adults who serve them. 

Diminished and uncertain State and Federal funding coupled with sluggish economic growth has required the shaping of a balanced, prudent, and responsible budget plan that addresses real student learning needs.  The School Committee wishes to hear from parents, students, staff, and community members about the budget proposal as they consider possible reductions in the plan. The task ahead of them is difficult, and I know they will certainly appreciate feedback from the community at the FY14 Budget Public Hearing scheduled for Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at Broadmeadow.

The proposed FY14 plan totals $54,423,967 and represents a 6.48% increase over the current budget year. This budget proposal outlines the resources the schools need to support a viable and sustainable educational program for our students, one that is consistent with our core values of Scholarship, Citizenship, Community, and Personal Growth.

The budget plan was developed in the context of growing student enrollment, particularly at the secondary level, where more intensive resources are required to meet the complexities of the middle and high school programs.  Additional staffing for teachers at the middle and high schools and an assistant principal at the high school are requested as part of this plan, as well as staff to expand and grow student intramurals and athletics.  Student enrollment at the elementary level has not decreased; this budget request seeks an additional grade two teacher at Hillside, as well as additional support to enhance mathematics learning and support for all students in each elementary school.

The budget proposal also takes into account the growing need to provide staff training, professional development, and tools to support the mandated educator evaluation program and to develop teacher increased skills and knowledge, as we integrate new and additional technology into Needham’s schools, classrooms, and offices.

Budget highlights include:

·      The budget represents a proposed 6.48% increase of $3.3 million over the current fiscal year. If Federal budget cuts are implemented this spring, an additional $142,000 will be needed, for a total budget of $54,566,025.

·      Contractual costs account for $1.2 million of the overall expenditure increase; enrollment and mandated (level service) costs account for $1.6 million of the increases.  Contracts and level service increases account for the majority of the budget request or 5.68% of the total 6.48% request.

·      Program improvements and innovation account for a modest $410,000 or 0.8% of the requested amount.

·      The budget assumes that total PreK-12 enrollment will grow to 5,519 in FY14 (from 5,476 in FY13.)  Elementary enrollment is projected to decline slightly from 2,519 to 2,507; middle school enrollment is expected to rise from 1,313 to 1,331 and High School enrollment is expected to increase from 1,562 to 1,598.

·      Overall staffing is increased by 25 Full Time Equivalents (FTE), including 22 FTE teachers.

·      Regular education transportation costs will also increase, resulting in an additional operating budget subsidy of $65,000 and a fee increase of at least $5.00 from $390 to $395.

·      Two additional math instructional coaches are proposed to support students and teachers at the elementary level; an athletic assistant is also included (and partially funded by the revolving account) to develop the high school’s athletic and intramural programs for all students; technical support staffing is increased by 1.5 FTE.

·      Support for professional development and technology tools is also increased in this budget plan by a total of $128,081.  This amount will provide training for the new and mandated teacher evaluation model and the expansion of training required to expand the middle school’s 1 to 1 technology initiative.

Members of the School Committee and central office administration have been working closely with the Finance Committee to review the school budget plan in anticipation of a presentation to the full Finance Committee later in January. While supportive of identified needs in the schools, members of the Finance Committee are concerned that the proposed school budget exceeds available resources. They have asked the School Committee and school administration to reconsider some worthwhile budget requests and scale back plans. However, as your superintendent I am worried that reductions in this plan will further erode services parents and students have come to expect.

Please attend the School Committee’s FY14 Budget public hearing at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 15th at Broadmeadow to learn more about the budget proposal and voice your ideas, concerns, and support. You may also email the School Committee at:  .

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