Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A first look at the school budget

At Tuesday's Board of Ed meeting (covered in detail here), Superintendent Michael Frechette released a revised school budget, showing only a 2% increase from the current year's expenses. Although the dollars go up, the new budget actually represents a cut from the current level of service, and this proposed budget is the first step to see where those cuts might be made.

If you'd like to view the proposed 2% budget in detail, it's available at the Board's webpage.

The proposed budget details $2.5 million less in funding than the "roll-over" budget that the Superintendent proposed last December. The cuts represent an actual drop in the following services:

Cuts in salaries ($1,457,145 less than if fully funded):
•11 retiring teaching positions would not be replaced and an additional 13 elementary teachers would be eliminated, with a rise in overall class size for that level (all the schools except Moody and Macdonough would see classrooms condensed.)
• The assistant superintendent for curriculum position would not be filled after John Hennelly's retirement. Also retiring but unfilled would be one PROBE teacher. Supervisors throughout the district would be cut (3.5 positions).
•various other positions including a custodian, a secretary, and 3 support teaching positions at Woodrow Wilson Middle School.
•savings from the approved union contract with Local 466 of a 2.25% increase, with no step increases.

Cuts in benefits ($719,864 less than if fully funded)
•various cuts and increases in insurance costs, as dictated by the City's Risk Manager.

Cuts in other services ($28,747 less than if fully funded):
•After-school programing in a few high-need schools would be eliminated
•There are various one-time savings, such as putting off purchasing GPS systems for school buses.

Cuts in supplies and materials ($268,530 less than if fully funded):
•$300,000 in savings are anticipated from lower fuel prices
•minor cuts in instructional and maintenance supplies

Cuts in capital preventative maintenance costs ($25,000 less than if fully funded)

It is still to be determined how many staff changes would be accomplished through retirements rather than layoffs.

As several Board members noted at the meeting, it is common for various proposals for cuts to be considered over the months of the budget process. Between now and July 1st, when the new budget takes effect, there will likely be many changes, depending on the amount that Middletown receives from the State and the amount that the City will commit to the schools.

The Mayor has asked the Board of Ed to submit a budget request by March 4th. The Board plans to vote on the proposed budget after hearing public comment at their March 3rd meeting.


Anonymous said...

Let me see if I understand this. The Board has released a SEVENTY MILLION DOLLAR budget tonight, they expect the public to comment on it next Tuesday night, and then within minutes they will vote on it and send it to the mayor. The SEVENTY MILLION DOLLARS is way over 50% of the city's budget, and THIS IS ALL THEY CAN DO?

Web Dunce said...

Cuts in other services ($28,747 less than if fully funded):
•After-school programing in a few high-need schools would be eliminated

It disturbs me that they want to cut the after school programs in "a few high-need schools". Which few? I believe they're called high need for a reason. After school programs don't cost very much to run, yet they are a god send for working parents who want their children to be safe between 3 and 6 p.m. The average paying program costs about $90 a week - a fee most working class people simply can't afford. This is criminal.