Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017-18 School Year Budget Proposal

Earlier this month I submitted the FY18 (School Year 2017-18) budget proposal to the Needham School Committee for their consideration.  The budget presentation and documents may be found on the district's website: FY18 NPS Budget Proposal  The budget plan is based on the district's values and goals, maintains existing services, and proposes funding for a few key program improvements.

The budget plan outlines an additional 5.57% funding increase over the current fiscal year, although most of this increase is to provide for a similar level of service as we have in classrooms and schools this year.

Several key budget “drivers” are impacting the proposed FY18 budget plan.  Among them:

•  Contractual Salary Increases  Contractual obligations for all existing employees account for $2.0 million, or less than half of the total requested increase.  In order to recruit, support, and retain a talented faculty and staff, we must provide reasonable yet competitive salaries for our staff, teachers, and school leaders.

•  Enrollment and Class Size  While overall enrollment is projected to increase only slightly next year, there remains a need to ensure class sizes stay within acceptable School Committee policy guidelines.  I will propose 10.12 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) classroom teachers at the elementary, middle, and high school levels to keep class sizes steady and make up for the loss of grant funds. I also outlined the need for 13.87 new FTE for administrative and support staff, including several teacher assistants required to meet mandated student services.  

•  Increased Special Education Costs  Increases in the number and increasingly intensive needs of special education students being served, special education tuition, transportation for special education students, and other mandated costs total approximately $.81 million of the new funds requested.

  Targeted Program Improvements.  Unlike the FY17 budget plan in which we were unable to include any significant increases for program development, in FY18 I propose $517,914 in new funding for teaching, learning, and infrastructure improvements.  Some of these recommendations include:  A Pollard math intervention teacher ($60,820), increased interdisciplinary support ($19,043), elementary and high school instructional technology teachers ($90,001), Science Center staff ($21,751), administrative support at High Rock and in Human Resources ($105,897), and upgraded technology supplies, software, and services ($76,177).  Additionally, I propose an increase to purchase Chromebooks ($20,000) for the incoming 9th graders as the Personalized Learning Initiative moves into the high school.  The budget plan also includes a recommendation for increased funding for substitutes ($48,344) in order to fill significant vacancies that exist.

Where possible, we have reallocated existing resources to meet new challenges, including a growing list of state and federal mandates.  Unfortunately, many important and worthwhile proposals suggested by school leaders—all designed to enhance and strengthen student learning—have been deferred to the future.

While the budget proposal is sensible and carefully considered, it will be a challenge to secure all the resources required to maintain existing programs, especially as the Schools and Town evaluate a variety of important educational and municipal needs. 

I am mindful that the Town Manager, School Committee, Finance Committee, or Town Meeting may have different priorities, so this plan remains a work in progress throughout the winter and early spring.  In other words, based on available resources and in close collaboration with Town boards, various line items in the proposal may be changed, increased, or deferred for another time.

The School Committee welcomes input and suggestions about the budget plan and encourages parents and community members to email them with comments at and attend or tune in to upcoming meetings.  The School Committee will study and discuss the budget proposal throughout December and January, and they will hold a formal public hearing on the budget at Broadmeadow on Tuesday, January 17th at 7:00 p.m.  Please also refer to the District’s website for additional information about the budget proposal:  FY18 NPS Budget Proposal

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