Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hard Budget Choices

Last night, May 24, the School Board held ifs final budget work session of the year - work session #11. The budget will be presented for approval in a special meeting this Friday morning at 7 am. What follows below is my understanding of what will be presented on Friday - this is not an official record or the minutes.

After all the hard work and late evenings, trying to decide what things not to do, there is much "good" news: - Mt. Daniel will keep its Assistant Principal- Thomas Jefferson will get a new, additional half-time gifted teacher- No paraprofessional days were cut (in full disclosure, this was my line in the sand - I would not vote to approve a budget that cut paraprofessional days)- The schools will hire 2 of 3 requested new elementary school teachers- We kept the MYP coordinator position at GM (I know this is controversial, but my personal opinion is this was not the time to make a programmatic change regarding MYP)

We reduced budgeted amounts or increased fees in many places:- the amount budgeted for utilities was cut- fees for athletics, summer computer use, and student parking were raised- lawn and grounds maintenance was reduced

And we made some painful cuts:- One requested new elementary teacher will not be hired- Extra pay for teachers and coaches, for activities from servicing as a department chair to supervising after school activities, were reduced by 5%- The "topped out" bonus (which is a new item) for the most senior support staff and administrators was reduced- The raise for leadership (e.g., principals, senior staff) was reduced by 40%, while the teacher raise had been cut by only 20%

I did want to add two other items to the list - terminating the central office lease and moving it to less expensive quarters, and reducing the salary and benefits budget (without cutting pay) because in the last few years we have had a surplus in that specific area. But the view of the School Board, as I understood it last night, was that those steps were too risky or less likely to generate savings. I think the Board's view is reasonable, although my personal view is different.

I am happy to answer questions, and I'll provide a link to the final budget (or final budget for approval) when it is available. If I made a mistake above, I'll correct it.

(These are my personal views and not the official statement or records of the Board. They are not minutes but my personal summary of some of the highlights from the meeting.)

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